Mortality Rates and Cause of Death Among Former Prison Inmates in North Carolina.
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BACKGROUND Inmates face challenges upon release from prison, including increased risk of death. We examine mortality among former inmates in North Carolina, including both violent and nonviolent deaths.METHODS A retrospective cohort study among former North Carolina inmates released between 2008 and 2010 were linked with North Carolina mortality data to determine cause of death. Inmates were followed through December 31, 2012. Mortality rates among former inmates were compared with deaths among North Carolina residents using standardized mortality ratios (SMRs).RESULTS Among former inmates (N = 41,495), there were 926 deaths during the study period. Compared to the North Carolina general population, SMRs were higher for all-cause mortality for total deaths (SMR = 2.10, 95% CI: 1.97-2.24), heart disease (SMR = 4.45, 95% CI: 3.64-5.34), cancer (SMR = 3.92, 95% CI: 3.34-4.62), suicide (SMR = 14.46, 95% CI: 10.28-19.76), and homicide (SMR = 7.98, 95% CI: 6.34-10.03).DISCUSSION The death rate among former North Carolina inmates is significantly higher than that of other North Carolina residents. Although more research is needed, identifying areas for interventions is essential for reducing the risk of death among this population.