Does Youth Incarceration Help or Hurt Future Health Outcomes of These Individuals?
DrLewisFirst, MD, MA, Editor in Chief, Pediatrics
Nobody wants to see youth incarcerated, let alone arrested; yet during late adolescence
and early adulthood, this unfortunately happens. So what does early incarceration
mean as these individuals become older adults? Barnert et al. (REF) looked at more
than 14000 adults who stayed in a national longitudinal study of adolescents becoming
adults and looked at the relationship between cumulative incarcerations (from none
to > 1year) before these individuals reached age 24 and their subsequent health outcomes.
Sadly 14% of those enrolled in this study reported being incarcerated between adolescence
and adulthood with the longer the duration of incarceration, the worse the health
and functional outcomes of these individuals, including added mental health issues
such as depression and suicidal thoughts. So why do these unfortunate outcomes occur
following incarceration and what can we do about it? Drs. Ralph DiClemente from Emory
and Dr. Gina Wingood from Columbia offer an editorial perspective on the issue of
youth incarceration and ways we can change the trajectories described in the Barnert
study. This study and commentary really should be required reading for anyone trying
to improve the future for the children and teens who experience adverse experiences
in life. Read both and see what we mean.