The dose-response of time served in prison on mortality: New York State, 1989-2003

Am J Public Health. 2013 Mar;103(3):523-8. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.301148. Epub 2013 Jan 17.


Objectives: I investigated the differential impact of the dose-response of length of stay on postprison mortality among parolees.

Methods: Using 1989-2003 New York State parole administrative data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on state correctional facilities, I employed multinomial logistic regression analyses and formal demographic techniques that used the life table of the populations to deduce changes in life expectancy.

Results: Each additional year in prison produced a 15.6% increase in the odds of death for parolees, which translated to a 2-year decline in life expectancy for each year served in prison. The risk was highest upon release from prison and declined over time. The time to recovery, or the lowest risk level, was approximately two thirds of the time served in prison.

Conclusions: Incarceration reduces life span. Future research should investigate the pathways to this higher mortality and the possibilities of recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Expectancy
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mortality*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult