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Long-term Consequences of Criminal Justice System Intervention: The Impact of Young Adult Arrest on Midlife Health Behaviors

Prevention Science
Elaine Eggleston Doherty, Kerry M. Green, Margaret E. Ensminger
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While there is a growing literature on the relationship between incarceration and health, few studies have expanded the investigation of criminal justice system involvement and health to include the more common intervention of arrest. This study uses a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the long-term effect of arrest in young adulthood on health behaviors in midlife for African Americans. We use propensity score matching methods and gender-specific multivariate regression analyses to equate those who did and did not incur an arrest in young adulthood from a subsample (n = 683) of the Woodlawn cohort, an African American community cohort followed from childhood into midlife. The results suggest that, for men, having been arrested in young adulthood has a direct effect on smoking, daily drinking, and risky sexual behaviors into midlife while young adult arrest does not seem to impact midlife health risk behaviors for women. This study adds health risk behaviors to the growing list of detrimental outcomes, such as crime, drug use, education, and mental health that are related to criminal justice contact for African American men, in particular.

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