The Health and Health Care of US Prisoners: A Nationwide Survey

Source: Andrew P. Wilper, Steffie Woolhandler, J. Wesley Boyd, Karen E. Lasser, Danny McCormick, David H. Bor, and David U. Himmelstein, American Journal of Public Health, Vol. 99 no. 1, January 2009
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The prison population of the United States has quadrupled in the past 25 years, and the country now incarcerates more people per capita than any other nation. Worldwide, imprisonment per 100000 ranges from 30 in India to 75 in Norway, 119 in China, 148 in the United Kingdom, 628 in Russia, and 750 in the United States.

Currently, nearly 2.3 million US inmates (about 1% of US adults) must rely on their jailers for health care. Although prisoners have a constitutional right to health care through the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of ”cruel and unusual” punishment, periodic scandals, as well as previous studies, indicate that prisoners’ access to health care and the quality of that care are often deficient.Indeed, citing deplorable conditions in California’s prison system, a federal judge recently removed prison health care from the state’s control. However, there is little nationally representative data on the health and health care of America’s prisoners.

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