Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Sociology

Content Description

1 online resource (viii, 237 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Ryan D King

Committee Members

Steven F Messner, Katherine Trent


Prisoners, Health and race, Imprisonment, Health

Subject Categories

Criminology | Epidemiology | Sociology


The primary aim of this dissertation is to better understand the link between incarceration and health. Drawing on a sample of young adults from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), the effect of incarceration on self-rated health, serious injury, STD infection, cold/flu symptoms, and blood pressure is assessed. The effect of incarceration on health behavior is also examined, including diet, smoking, binge drinking, and physical activity. In order to rule out selection bias, current and former inmates are compared to respondents who have been arrested (or arrested and convicted of a crime), but not incarcerated. Findings suggest that current inmates may reap some benefits of being incarcerated, evidenced by a higher expected rate of physical activity, higher predicted self-rated health, and a lower risk of obesity compared to "arrested only" and "arrested and convicted only" respondents. However, results indicate that being a former inmate is detrimental to health, evidenced by higher odds of STD infection, serious injury, smoking, and a higher expected rate of poor dieting among respondents who have been released. Findings suggest that much of the association between former incarceration and poor health behavior can be attributed to the financial difficulties, stress, isolation, and diminished social standing spurred by imprisonment.