Jenna Healy



Document Type



The United States has the highest number of prisoners per capita at 639 people per 100,0008. There has been a fivefold increase in the number of inmates in the United States prison systems since 197044, and this may be a major contributor to the corrections healthcare system having trouble keeping up with this growth compared to the general population of the United States. According to the World Health Organization, the United States has documented higher mortality rates than many other developed countries. Rates of conditions such as cardiovascular disease have decreased everywhere, but much less in the United States. In addition, the United States had the second-leading mortality from noncommunicable diseases and fourth highest from communicable diseases (see Appendix 1). The Bureau of Justice Statistics found that in 2019, 89% of deaths in state prisons were from any sort of illness, chronic or infectious45. There is also a high rate of psychiatric conditions, respiratory diseases, diabetes and other endocrine disorders, genitourinary disease, congenital anomalies, infectious diseases, and perinatal conditions in the United States 10. The United States has the lowest life expectancy compared to the United Kingdom and Australia which have similar healthcare expenditures for a developed country (see Appendix 2). The United States government and the state prison systems spend similar percentages of their budget, around 18%10, on healthcare yet the prevalence of different conditions and access to treatment is different. This paper will discuss health issues prevalent among inmates compared to the United States adult population, medical interventions currently available for each issue, suggestions to improve access and care, and an interview from a former prison nurse discussing her experience.


Health and Kinnesiology

Thesis Comittee

Dr. Angela Bailey, Thesis Advisor
Dr. Karen Richardson, Committee Member
Dr. Maura Rosenthal, Committee Member