Mass Incarceration: The Subjugation of Black Men's Health


Author/Creator ORCID



Type of Work


Center for Geographies of Justice - Peace Studies


Bachelor's Degree

Citation of Original Publication


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There has been an ongoing effort to lessen racial health disparities in the United States, but little headway has been made. Despite tremendous advances in medicine, the life expectancy gap between black and white men has remained. This paper argues that because black men are imprisoned at a disproportionate rate to all other racial and ethnic groups, mass incarceration plays in integral role in maintaining this life expectancy gap. A study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes, which are all exacerbated by stressors like incarceration and reentry, are the causes of death that contribute most to the life expectancy gap between black and white men. Drawing on stories given by participants from Turnaround Tuesday, a jobs movement in Baltimore, I explore how incarceration shapes returning citizens’ return to community, with a specific focus on social determinants of health, stigma, and status. This case study indicates that chronic stress puts returning citizens at risk for the four major causes of death, but that Turnaround Tuesday’s focus on employment and social network building positions them to reduce this risk.