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Public Health And Criminal Justice: Shared Root Causes

As the public health community focuses on the root causes of ill health and inequities, there is a growing recognition that criminal justice, and the policies that inform our criminal justice system, are public health issues. The same structural inequities that contribute to poor overall health and well-being – economic insecurity, low education, inadequate housing, exposure to violence, and racism – also contribute to the disproportionate incarceration of low-income communities and communities of color.


In NYC, for example, the highest concentrations of premature mortality, poverty, and incarceration occur within the same neighborhoods – largely neighborhoods of color. In 2012, all cause and premature mortality rates for the 10 leading causes of premature mortality were 1.3 to 2.0 times higher in the very high poverty neighborhoods than in the low poverty neighborhoods. Additionally, young Black and Latino men – mostly from the same high poverty neighborhoods – are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, accounting for 81% of all persons arraigned within the last two years. Thus, when we discuss issues of incarceration in this city, we are also discussing issues of racial and income inequities in health…

Originally posted on Human Impact Partners

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