Health and Criminal Justice Disparities

Mass Incarceration, Residential Segregation and Stillbirth Risks

Persistent racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal outcomes remain a significant public health concern. The rate of stillbirth, defined as an intrauterine death at 20 weeks of gestation or more, among non-Hispanic Black women is more than twice the rate among non-Hispanic White women in the U.S., and we found an even wider disparity in our previous work in Harris County, TX, where Houston is located.

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Projects

Mass Incarceration and Still Birth Risks

Persistent racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal outcomes remain a significant public health concern. The rate of stillbirth, defined as an intrauterine death at 20 weeks of gestation or more, among non-Hispanic Black women is more than twice the rate among non-Hispanic White women in the U.S., and we found an even wider disparity in our previous work in Harris County, TX, where Houston is located.

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Parental Incarceration

Previous research has shown associations between parental incarceration and negative impacts such as interruption in parenting, residential instability, and loss of financial support. Without knowing the number of parents booked into the Harris County jail, it is difficult to determine the prevalence and impact of parental incarceration in the Houston area.

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Overview

The recent call for sweeping institutional and policy changes has been heard by those in both the medical and public health communities. Structural racism can be loosely understood as the “privileges of whiteness” or the “disadvantages of color.” Although accurate, this oversimplified understanding does not convey the pervasiveness of racism in the very foundations of our societal, economic, judicial and health systems. Among the institutions and policies included in these systems, the disproportionate rates of imprisonment and violent police encounters for Blacks in the criminal justice system have been well-documented. These measures have been found to affect individual health through their associations with perinatal health outcomes remain understudied.

Background

The Center for Justice Research Health (with a focus on Black Maternal Health) and Criminal Justice Disparities research aims to provide a framework for providing evidence based solutions for the persistent racial and ethnic disparities in perinatal outcomes. Due to Black maternal health being a significant public health concern, currently the Center for Justice Research is working on a study examining the role of mass incarceration and residential segregation as drivers of Black-White disparities in risk of stillbirth.

Background

The recent call for sweeping institutional and policy changes has been heard by those in both the medical and public health communities. Structural racism can be loosely understood as the “privileges of whiteness” or the “disadvantages of color.” Although accurate, this oversimplified understanding does not convey the pervasiveness of racism in the very foundations of our societal, economic, judicial and health systems. Among the institutions and policies included in these systems, the disproportionate rates of imprisonment and violent police encounters for Blacks in the criminal justice system have been well-documented. These measures have been found to affect individual health through their associations with perinatal health outcomes remain understudied.

Meet the Team
Jasmine Drake, Ph.D
Research Fellow at The Center for Justice Research and Associate Professor of Administration of Justice at Texas Southern University
Jennifer Wyatt Bourgeois, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Fellow at The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University
Kandace Hurst, Ph.D
Postdoctoral Fellow at The Center for Justice Research at Texas Southern University