Prison is not a particularly safe place to live. For newly freed inmates however, the streets are even more dangerous.
Australian researchers examined the mortality rate of newly released prisoners, looking at the risk of death during the first two weeks after release. They call it carnage. Newly released men are 29 times more likely that the general population to die during that first 2 weeks – women are 69 times more likely to die – 69 times more likely.
What’s killing them?
Drug overdoses mostly. It seems as though prison isn’t doing much to break long dormant opiate habits, and the newly released addicted are soon back to their old ways – minus any real tolerance for the drugs. They are shooting heroin, and what used to be a manageable dose is now a fatal dose, and that’s the end of that story. We think that a death sentence for non violent drug crimes is unreasonable – but what we give, when we sentence heroin addicts to prison – is pretty close to capital punishment anyway.
Read more about it in the February 2008 edition of the journal, "Addiction".