Friday, January 12, 2007

Former Inmates High Risk of Death

Inmates from Washington state prisons are 13 times more likely to die within the first two weeks of their release… The most likely cause of death at this vulnerable period…is drug overdose, followed by suicide, heart disease, and homicide.” Let’s think of why this might be the case. The individual is released without rehabilitation programs in prison to the “old neighborhood” without drug addiction treatment or support, without mental health services, with very limited options for housing or ability to find a job; some of those may contribute.

The article goes on to quote Dr. Ingrid Binswanger who led the study as saying “…this may well point to a need for boosting support for former inmates…” May? What else does it point to? Perhaps to Mr. Scrooge’s comment about ‘decreasing the surplus population”? This is a medical (and societal) crisis. A known risk factor that increases one’s risk of death by a factor of 13 ought to stir up a “push for the cure”.

We have some local programs, but no doubt could do more, could do better. We definitely see a group of overdose victims “fresh” out of prison (they jump back to there pre-incarceration drug dose and die) through our office, but I would never have pegged the health risk at this level. Ought to look into it locally and, certainly, I will continue to support local efforts with this ‘at risk” group.

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