File Name

2018 USRA Book of Abstracts 6.pdf



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Faculty Advisors

Novisky, Meghan A.

Publication Date



College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences


Criminology, Anthropology, and Sociology


Incarceration is an important social determinant of health. Generally, men and women who experience incarceration face elevated risks for physical health issues, infectious disease, mental health disorders, homelessness, and unemployment. Yet, while the criminological literature clearly identifies incarceration as a powerful predictor of health, it is less clear what particular aspects of the prison experience constitute the greatest challenges for the well-being of the men and women who reside there. This study involved completing 30 in depth, qualitative interviews with men and women who were recently released from state prisons about their incarceration experiences. After a process of open coding, data from these interviews show that, at least among this sample, incarcerated men and women are exposed to extreme acts of violence on a regular basis as a result of their incarceration and that access to medical services in prison is heavily stratified. These two areas were particularly stressful for respondents and contributed to their adjustments not only to prison life, but to the difficulties they faced during community re-entry. Findings are consistent with Strain Theory, which emphasizes the impacts of trauma exposure and other stressful life events on risks for recidivism. It is suggested that future studies explore trauma exposure and differential access to medical services during incarceration as specific risk factors for health disparities and diminished social capital.

The Impacts of Trauma Exposure and Differential Access to Medical Services on the Incarceration Experience