Impacts of Incarceration on Health Focusing on Minority Males: Considerations for COVID-19 and Future Pandemics

Document Type


Publication Date



Long-standing health and social inequalities associated with minorities have increased their risk for infection, hospitalization, and death related to COVID-19. This disparity is further exacerbated with incarcerated individuals, yet little attention, both prepandemic and presently, has been devoted to collecting up-to-date data. This study uses the 2004 Survey of Inmates in State Correctional Facilities (SISCF), the most recent data, to explore the general offender population and self-reported chronic and medical health conditions to highlight how COVID-19 will impact marginalized populations. Results from the four binary regression models found that minority males are more likely to have chronic illnesses which increase in probability with longer sentences, number of incarcerations, and advancement in age. Our findings advocate for the development of recent data sets on inmate health, particularly minority individuals, as well as the construction of more precise health measures to address these health disparities, including COVID-19.