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Study on relationship between health of Black Americans and probation published by U of A researchers

Researchers used a study that surveyed 20,000 adolescents of different races five times throughout their lives.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — A group of researchers at the University of Arkansas in the Department of Sociology and Criminology published a study presenting new findings that suggest that probation affects the health of Black Americans.

The study was written by Michael Niño, an assistant professor, Casey T. Harris, Alexia Angton, and Meredith Zhang and was published in the Journal of Criminal Justice. They got their data from The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health, also known as Add Health.

Add Health is a study that surveyed 20,000 adolescents who identified as Black, White, or Hispanic five times throughout their lives on their health behaviors and have had contact with the criminal justice system starting in 1994 through 2019. From this data came the conclusion that the health of Black Americans is disproportionately impacted by their contact with the criminal justice through probation and probation in combination with incarceration. 

Niño says probation is incredibly stressful, as those under these conditions are constantly thinking about having to comply with the rules. According to Niño, Black Americans have less resources to keep up with their probation. 

“That chronic stress of constantly having to think of how I'm going to pay my probation fee, how I’m going to have to take urinalysis, I have to be here, I can't be here. And then also coupled with all of the other stressors that come with social life most certainly impact their health differently than it does other groups,” said Niño.

Some of the health impacts of contact with the criminal justice system that have already been noticed in the general population include hypertension, depression, substance abuse disorders, poor mental health, obesity, and accelerated aging.


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