Prison :: High risk of death for former inmates after release from prison

Former prison inmates were at high risk for death after release from prison, particularly during the first 2 weeks. Interventions are necessary to reduce the risk of death after release from prison — a new study revealed in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The U.S. population of former prison inmates is large and growing. The period immediately after release may be challenging for former inmates and may involve substantial health risks. Researchers studied the risk of death among former inmates soon after their release from Washington State prisons.

Researchers conducted a retrospective cohort study of all inmates released from the Washington State Department of Corrections from July 1999 through December 2003.

During the first 2 weeks after release, the risk of death among former inmates was 12.7 (95% CI, 9.2 to 17.4) times that among other state residents, with a markedly elevated relative risk of death from drug overdose (129; 95% CI, 89 to 186). The leading causes of death among former inmates were drug overdose, cardiovascular disease, homicide, and suicide.

The study was led by Dr. Ingrid Binswanger of the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Colorado at Denver, and the team included Dr. Marc Stern of the Washington State Department of Corrections, and other scientists from Seattle.

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