Discrimination and psychological distress among recently released male prisoners

Am J Mens Health. 2013 Nov;7(6):482-93. doi: 10.1177/1557988313484056. Epub 2013 Apr 2.


Though theoretical perspectives suggest experiences of stigma and discrimination after release may be one pathway through which incarceration leads to poor mental health, little research considers the relationship between discrimination and mental health among former inmates. In this article, data from a sample of men recently released from prison to Oakland or San Francisco, California (N = 172), are used to consider how criminal record discrimination and racial/ethnic discrimination are independently and cumulatively associated with psychological distress. Results indicate that (a) the frequency of criminal record discrimination and racial/ethnic discrimination are similar; (b) both forms of discrimination are independently, negatively associated with psychological distress; and (c) the level of racial/ethnic discrimination does not alter the association between criminal record discrimination and psychological distress. The results highlight that criminal record discrimination is an important social stressor with negative implications for the mental health of previously incarcerated individuals.

Keywords: discrimination; incarceration; inequality; mental health; psychological distress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Forensic Psychiatry
  • Health Services Needs and Demand / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prejudice*
  • Prisoners / psychology*
  • Prisoners / statistics & numerical data
  • Prisons
  • San Francisco
  • Social Adjustment*
  • Social Perception
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • United States