Black state inmates are reportedly living longer than blacks that dwell outside of the jail system, according to a report from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics.
Inmates in state prisons are dying at a yearly average rate of 250 per 100,000 people, compared to the overall population with a yearly average rate of approximately 308 per 100,000 people, reported state prison officials.
Figures reported to the department showed that black inmates, in particular, died at the rate of 206 per 100,000 people, compared with a rate of 484 per 100,000 people for the total black population. In other words, the death rate for black inmates is 57% lower than the overall black population. Why is that?
“They (inmates) don’t have to face the violent crimes like the general public. They have better healthcare and food. They have resources to stay alive,” said a Dillard University student who has been employed by the New Orleans Police Department for the past 12 years.
Gradually, state and federal prisons are becoming more technology savvy, improving libraries, meal plans and integrating trade schools and degree programs for inmates. Therefore, while inmates are imprisoned, they have the opportunity of not just getting introduced, but ultimately becoming proficient in society’s many advances, while law abiding citizens struggle to make everyday ends meet.
Like the New Orleans officer, many U.S. citizens have voiced concerns about the lavish treatment given to criminals.
“It’s unfair! Inmates are given special treatment that even military personnel can’t even vouch for,” said sophomore Sociology/Criminal Justice major, Latrisha Benard, from Dallas, Texas. “If I was a criminal, I wouldn’t care about going to jail. It’s sad, but most criminals already don’t have anything, so going to jail is an upgrade. Therefore, there is no real punishment. That’s probably why we can’t deter crime.”
Outside the system, blacks are dying at an unnatural rate not because of lack of healthcare aid or food, but simply because of the high rate of black-on-black crime.
Black crime has increased rapidly over the past few years placing more black men and women in jail and this is primarily due to lack of education, lack of influential people surrounding these individuals, and the “more money, more power”” mindset many criminals seem to adopt.
According to the New Orleans police officer, “Many repeat offenders go through that, ‘I’m immortal phase,’ where they don’t care about life.” He refers to the phrase as the “2 Pac syndrome.” It is because of this mentality, so many inmates find themselves in and out of jail.
In addition to the black-on-black crime being the number one cause of high death rates outside of the prison system, the realm of possible accidental deaths: car collisions, plane crashes, innocent by-standard, and drowning surface, just to name a few. Because inmates are not subjected to any of these hazards, they have little to no chance of dying from them.
Officer Shante’ Stevenson from the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women said, “it’s true, black inmates are outliving those outside the system and more specifically, females. Males on the other hand, live with the mindset that you are going to die whether inside or out, because they can not handle the pressure either way.”
Maryland, ranked number two in all Part I index crimes (murder, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, arson, larceny, and motor vehicle theft), leaving little to no room for slip ups outside the system. It is almost safe to assume that a Maryland resident would almost rather live on the inside to ensure a longer life span.
With crime increasing daily, especially in high crime states like Maryland, outliving another person is not the focus. The general public tends to lean toward the aspect of survival because that is the ultimate battle many face.
So, why is it that black inmates are living longer than blacks outside of the system? It is because prison systems have altered the definition of punishment to mean an escape of reality accentuated by computers and internet access, cable, state of the art law libraries, theater departments, and convenience stores sponsored by tax payers who live life in fear of possible victimization because so many criminals have yet to be caught and jailed.