Potentially Avertable Premature Deaths Associated with Jail Incarceration in New York City


This study assessed neighborhood-level association between jail incarceration and premature mortality and estimated the number of potentially avertable premature deaths associated with jail incarceration in NYC. The study outcome was premature mortality rate and the main predictor of interest was jail incarceration rate. Variables associated with premature mortality in bivariate analysis were considered for inclusion in the multivariable ordinary least squares model and in the multivariable linear mixed effects model accounting for spatial correlation. Numbers of potentially avertable premature deaths were calculated by substituting the citywide incarceration rate for the neighborhoods with incarceration rates higher than the citywide rate in the final regression model. There were large disparities in both jail incarceration and premature mortality rates. Incarceration was strongly associated with premature mortality. The number of potentially avertable premature deaths associated with jail incarceration from 2011 to 2015 was approximately 6000, representing 10% of all predicted premature deaths in NYC. This study indicates that incarceration is closely correlated with premature mortality rates, which may contribute to health inequities among low-income NYC neighborhoods with predominantly black and Latino residents.

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The authors acknowledge Andy Martens, Alex Foard, Mariana Veras, Sungwoo Lim, Hannah Gould, Charon Gwynn, Patrick Germain, Oxiris Barbot, and James Hadler for reviewing previous drafts of this article.


Funding was provided by Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant No. Data Across Sectors for Health).

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Correspondence to Kathleen H. Reilly.

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Reilly, K.H., Johns, E., Noyan, N. et al. Potentially Avertable Premature Deaths Associated with Jail Incarceration in New York City. J Community Health 44, 881–887 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10900-018-00611-8

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  • Spatial analysis
  • Avoidable deaths
  • Inequalities
  • Neighborhood/place
  • Public health