A social ecological framework of inmate health: Implications for black white health disparities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This review integrates and builds linkages among existing theoretical and empirical literature from across disciplines to further broaden our understanding of the relationship between inequality, imprisonment, and health for black men. The review examines the health impact of prisons through an ecological theoretical perspective to understand how factors at multiple levels of the social ecology interact with prisons to potentially contribute to deleterious health effects and the exacerbation of race/ethnic health disparities. This review finds that there are documented health disparities between inmates and non-inmates, but the casual mechanisms explaining this relationship are not well-understood. Prisons may interact with other societal systems such as the family (microsystem), education, and healthcare systems (meso/exosystems), and systems of racial oppression (macrosystem) to influence individual and population health. The review also finds that research needs to move the discussion of the race effects in health and crime/justice disparities beyond the mere documentation of such differences toward a better understanding of their causes and effects at the level of individuals, communities, and other social ecologies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationResearch in Race and Ethnic Relations
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages28
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

Publication series

NameResearch in Race and Ethnic Relations
ISSN (Print)0195-7449


  • Inequality
  • Population health
  • Prison
  • Prisoners
  • Race/ethnic health disparities
  • Social ecological theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration


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