Navigation Links
Researchers treat incarceration as a disease epidemic, discover small changes help
Date:6/25/2014

The incarceration rate has nearly quadrupled since the U.S. declared a war on drugs, researchers say. Along with that, racial disparities abound. Incarceration rates for black Americans are more than six times higher than those for white Americans, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

To explain these growing racial disparities, researchers at Virginia Tech are using the same modeling techniques used for infectious disease outbreaks to take on the mass incarceration problem.

By treating incarceration as an infectious disease, the scientists demonstrated that small but significant differences in prison sentences can lead to large differences in incarceration rates. The research was published in June in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.

Incarceration can be "transmitted" to others, the researchers say. For instance, incarceration can increase family members' emotional and economic stress or expose family and friends to a network of criminals, and these factors can lead to criminal activity.

Alternatively, "official bias" leads police and the courts to pay more attention to the incarcerated person's family and friends, thereby increasing the probability they will be caught, prosecuted and processed by the criminal justice system, researchers said.

"Regardless of the specific mechanisms involved," said Kristian Lum, a former statistician at the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute now working for DataPad, "the incarceration of one family member increases the likelihood of other family members and friends being incarcerated."

Building on this insight, incarceration is treated like a disease in the model and the incarcerated are infectious to their social contacts their family members and friends most likely affected by their incarceration.

"Criminologists have long recognized that social networks play an important role in criminal behavior, the control of criminal behavior, and the re-entry of prisoners into society," said James Hawdon, a professor of sociology in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences. "We therefore thought we should test if networks also played a role in the incarceration epidemic. Our model suggests they do."

Synthesizing publically available data from a variety of sources, the researchers generated a realistic, multi-generational synthetic population with contact networks, sentence lengths, and transmission probabilities.

The researchers' model is comparable to real-world incarceration rates, reproducing many facets of incarceration in the United States.

Both the model and actual statistics show large discrepancies in incarceration rates between black and white Americans and, subsequently, the likelihood of becoming a repeat offender is high.

Comparisons such as these can be used to validate the assumption that incarceration is infectious.

"Research clearly shows that this epidemic has had devastating effects on individuals, families, and entire communities," Lum said. "Since our model captures the emergent properties of the incarceration epidemic, we can use it to test policy options designed to reverse it."

Harsher sentencing may actually result in higher levels of criminality. Examining the role of social influence is an important step in reducing the growing incarceration epidemic.


'/>"/>

Contact: Tiffany Trent
ttrent@vt.edu
540-231-6822
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Researchers publish one of the longest longitudinal studies of cognition in MS
2. SLU researchers see possible answer to chemo pain in a multiple sclerosis drug
3. Miriam Hospital researchers analyze AUDs, sexual behavior among South African men
4. Researchers find gene critical for development of brain motor center
5. New target: Researchers identify pancreatic cancer resistance mechanism
6. U of MD researchers receive NIH grant to study personalized medicine for genetic diabetes
7. Researchers map genomic differences in yellow fever, malaria mosquitoes
8. Researchers identify mechanism that could help old muscle grow
9. Researchers identify new compound to treat depression
10. Researchers create better methods to detect E. coli
11. UGA researchers discover new method to reduce disease-causing inflammation
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... Michael Lanteri Agency, an ... Fort Collins area, has unveiled a collaboration with nonprofit Big Bones Canine Rescue ... this worthy cause may now be made at http://bigbonescaninerescue.com/ . , Big ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... Altec Products, Inc. ... Group as their 2016 Microsoft Dynamics Partner of the Year at DocLink ... The award recognizes The Resource Group for their outstanding relationship with Altec and ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... , ... Sharon Kleyne, host of the nationally syndicated radio program, The Sharon ... talked on her program about how she is looking forward to World Water Day ... important distinction. World Water Day, Kleyne pointed out, is an occasion for looking ahead ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... Kennett Square, PA (PRWEB) , ... March 23, 2017 , ... ... sunny days. That means many students are thinking about summer internships , which ... (or lack thereof). , The pros at Garden Media Group, a boutique public relations ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... ... March 23, 2017 , ... The American Board of Quality Assurance ... Anniversary of ABQAURP’s dedication to Health Care Quality and Management and Patient Safety. , ... only to the association, but also to the Health Care Quality and Patient Safety ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:3/23/2017)... 23, 2017 Executive ... through extensive primary research (inputs from industry experts, ... to present the analysis of global heart valve ... and Repair); Replacement Procedure By Technique (Mechanical, Bioprosthetic, ... (Surgical Devices, Balloon Valvuloplasty, Transcatheter Mitral Valve Repair ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... , March 23, 2017  The U.S. Food ... (avelumab) for the treatment of adults and pediatric patients ... (MCC), including those who have not received prior chemotherapy. ... a rare, aggressive form of skin cancer. ... cancers, patients with a rare form called Merkel cell ...
(Date:3/23/2017)... VANCOUVER, British Columbia , March 23, ... ) (the "Company" or "Sophiris"), a clinical late-stage biopharmaceutical ... diseases, today announced that data from its successful Phase ... a focal treatment for localized prostate cancer, will be ... the 32 nd Annual European Association of Urology ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: