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Self-rated health of French prison inmates: does time spent behind bars matter?

Collection : Documents de travail

179, 2012, 28 pages

  1. Methods
  2. Results
  3. Discussion
  4. References
In this paper, our aim is to evaluate the effect of imprisonment on the inmates’ self-rated health. Data are taken from the most recent nationally representative survey on disabilities in French prisons. We first compare the inmates’ self-rating with results obtained in the general population. Then, we examine the extent to which it varies according to time spent behind bars. We find that the prevalence of less-than-good self-rated health is more than twice higher among French inmates (36%) than in the general population of similar age, sex, and level of education. Both very short and long periods of imprisonment are associated with poorer self-rated health. So damaging effects of imprisonment on health seems to outweigh potential beneficial effects. Better living conditions in prisons would certainly contribute positively to improve inmates’ health. Our results also suggest that special attention should be paid to incoming prisoners.

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