The Criminal Justice System Makes Black Men Sick, Expert Says

The Criminal Justice System Makes Black Men Sick, Expert Says

black man in jail

 

(AL.com) – As legislators consider prison reform in Alabama, a national expert on African-American health said the criminal justice system is a major source of health problems for black men.

Mark Alexander, chair of health and wellness for 100 Black Men of America, delivered remarks Tuesday during UAB’s 10th annual Health Disparities Research Symposium. His organization is partnering with UAB’s Minority Health and Health Disparities Research Center on a project to improve health among African-American men.

Black men are incarcerated at a rate that is almost seven times higher than the rate for white men, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Many prisoners suffer from mental illness, and many more develop mental illness as a result of incarceration, Alexander said. Overcrowded conditions and poor health care can cause outbreaks of infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, which has spread in St. Clair Correctional Facility and other prisons. Prisoners are also more likely to have HIV and Hepatitis C, which can spread inside prisons.

“Infectious diseases are a big problem for men in prison,” Alexander said. “Overcrowding and health conditions exacerbate these problems.”

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