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Child incarceration and long-term adult health outcomes: a longitudinal study

Elizabeth S. Barnert (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Laura S. Abrams (Department of Social Welfare, Luskin School of Public Affairs, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Lello Tesema (Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholars Program, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Rebecca Dudovitz (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Bergen B. Nelson (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, Virginia, USA)
Tumaini Coker (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Eraka Bath (Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Christopher Biely (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Ning Li (Department of Biomathematics, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Paul J. Chung (Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute, Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA) (Department of Health Policy, and Management, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California, USA) (RAND Health, RAND Corp, Santa Monica, California, USA)

International Journal of Prisoner Health

ISSN: 1744-9200

Article publication date: 12 March 2018

677

Abstract

Purpose

Although incarceration may have life-long negative health effects, little is known about associations between child incarceration and subsequent adult health outcomes. The paper aims to discuss this issue.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors analyzed data from 14,689 adult participants in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) to compare adult health outcomes among those first incarcerated between 7 and 13 years of age (child incarceration); first incarcerated at>or=14 years of age; and never incarcerated.

Findings

Compared to the other two groups, those with a history of child incarceration were disproportionately black or Hispanic, male, and from lower socio-economic strata. Additionally, individuals incarcerated as children had worse adult health outcomes, including general health, functional limitations (climbing stairs), depressive symptoms, and suicidality, than those first incarcerated at older ages or never incarcerated.

Research limitations/implications

Despite the limitations of the secondary database analysis, these findings suggest that incarcerated children are an especially medically vulnerable population.

Practical implications

Programs and policies that address these medically vulnerable children’s health needs through comprehensive health and social services in place of, during, and/or after incarceration are needed.

Social implications

Meeting these unmet health and social service needs offers an important opportunity to achieve necessary health care and justice reform for children.

Originality/value

No prior studies have examined the longitudinal relationship between child incarceration and adult health outcomes.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This work was supported by a UCLA Transdisciplinary Seed Grant, by the UC Criminal Justice and Health Consortium, and by the UCLA Children’s Discovery and Innovation Institute. Dr Barnert’s time was supported by an NIH National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences UCLA CTSI Award (KL2TR001882).

Citation

Barnert, E.S., Abrams, L.S., Tesema, L., Dudovitz, R., Nelson, B.B., Coker, T., Bath, E., Biely, C., Li, N. and Chung, P.J. (2018), "Child incarceration and long-term adult health outcomes: a longitudinal study", International Journal of Prisoner Health, Vol. 14 No. 1, pp. 26-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJPH-09-2016-0052

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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