Repost from the old site. Oh, I know, I know, I know, you’re all mad about the headline. But don’t go away, not yet anyway. Do allow me to explain. Prison is not a great place. It’s not even a good place. It’s not even a fair or ok place. I’ve been in jail for six hours in my life, and my wimpy middle-class White-boy self is still traumatized. At least the memories kept me on the right side of the law. I do not ever want to go back there, not even for a minute. If only arrest had this effect on everyone… But Blacks, I think especially Black men (I don’t think there are a lot of Black females in prison) seem to handle it ok. Don’t ask me how they do it. Maybe you learn some real life survival skills growing up in the hood. Black men in prison have a much lower death rate, than those living outside. Inside, it is 206 per 100,000/yr and outside, it is 484 per 100,000/yr., a 57 This is a fact. A fact that won’t go away. That stares us in the face and demands to be recognized, parsed, anything but ignored. The lower death rate in prisons is not so much a tribute to our obviously horrible prison system, which frequently denies the heavily-Black prison population access to basic medical treatment, among other things. More than that, this is a stark, punch in the face reminder of just how deadly life in the hood really is for the Black male. There are a million ways to dissect this data, including some really nasty and racist ones. Google will direct you to those if you look hard enough, or you can just use your imagination. Let’s look at some real reasons why a Black man statistically stands much better chance of surviving in prison than on the street. Prison health care, crappy as it is, is maybe still better than the zero health care many Blacks get outside of prison. And it’s hard to take a lot of drugs and drink a lot inside prison. You can do a bit of both, but not much. Despite all the talk about prison violence, there is strict gun control inside prison. Guns are deadly for Black men outside of prison, where they are six times more likely to be felled by bullets than non-Blacks. And maybe there is plenty of time and motivation to exercise, and perhaps the prison diet is not deliberately unhealthy. In addition, one is removed from many things that can kill you, like vehicles and machinery. Black males are especially likely to die in vehicle accidents compared to other races. As long as Black men are living longer inside prison, and as long as so many are in there anyway, can we maybe make it a nicer place to stay for them? Maybe dorm-style rooms and more conjugal visits for promising, well-behaved prisoners? If the disintegration of Black life in the hood continues at this pace, we may even reach the outrageous point at some point in the future where Black men may want to voluntarily check themselves into prison to live a longer and more healthy life. Let us now imagine a future world where the hood was so bleak that Black males were volunteering for prison, if only for a chance to survive. In this theoretical case, could we make it more pleasant for the voluntaries, if there were any? Could we design special prisons for them – the voluntary prisons? Check out any time you like, prisons? And how would we make it begin to pay for itself, or at least not be a money pit? Dorm-style rooms, TV and movies, jobs for good wages, all the conjugal visits you want…I know this sounds like sick comedy, but these are human lives we are talking about here. How could we justify the costs? Life in the hood, with Black men sick, injured and dying young, are all costs to society. Healthy Black men in the voluntary prison, capable of working, living a more normal lifespan, may cost society less. Even here, most Black males will choose freedom over chains. More than demonstrating the humanity of US prisons, this appalling statistic is one more metric showing the utter unlivability of the Black ghetto. For White and Hispanic men, prison is a little more deadly than life on the outside, but not much. Great discussion here , with talk of possible bias, reasons for the disparity, etc. Interesting liberal take on this issue, from which I may quote and agree:
While prisoners’ rights and care are imperative, it is a disheartening paradox that being in jail decreases mortality.
But the reasons quoted in that paper are somewhat absurd – the reason why more Black men die on the outside? Racism? And there is less or no racism inside prison? Sometimes liberals, to paraphrase Gallagher, embarrass me.