State inmates outlive people on outsideCheck me if I'm wrong, but isn't the number of inmates dying in prison completely unrelated to the length of people's lives simply because a) most prisoners are younger than the general population*, b) most prisoners are released - alive - after a few years, and c) excluding people aged 65 and older from your sample is a damned poor way to tell who's living longer?
WASHINGTON -- State prison inmates, particularly blacks, are living longer on average than people on the outside, the government said Sunday.
Inmates in state prisons are dying at an average yearly rate of 250 per 100,000, according to the latest figures reported to the Justice Department by state prison officials. By comparison, the overall population of people between age 15 and 64 is dying at a rate of 308 a year.
For black inmates, the rate was 57 percent lower than among the overall black population - 206 versus 484. But white and Hispanic prisoners both had death rates slightly above their counterparts in the overall population.
The Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Statistics said 12,129 state prisoners died between 2001 through 2004.
The vast majority of people who do time do not die in prison simply because they serve a term and then are released**, while everyone on the outside dies eventually. Comparing the number of people dying in any given year from such disparate statistical samples seems to me quite unlikely to lead to the conclusion the AP reaches.
I do notice, however, that the one number that would prove the headline and conclusion true beyond a doubt - the life expectancy of a life-without-paroler - is absent from the article. In light of that missing number, what's the AP trying to accomplish by implying we'd live longer if only we could all be prisoners?
* "...people ages 25 to 44 are overrepresented among prisoners compared to their share in the general adult population; older people are underrepresented among prisoners. "
-- "Who's in Prison? The Changing Demographics of Incarceration" p.4
** It's seemingly only those waiting to be executed who die of old age.