Health and criminal conviction among African Americans - A sibling study

<b>Abstract: </b>We examined the association between crime and poor health in a sample of African American twins. We combined health data from the Carolina African American Twin Study of Aging with criminal conviction data from North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety. We analyzed both convicted Study members matched with non-convicted study members and siblings discordant for criminal conviction. Study members with a criminal conviction, compared to those without a criminal conviction, had poorer adult health outcomes. Poor childhood health could not explain poor adult health among convicted offenders. The results of our discordant sibling analysis showed that the association between criminal conviction and poor adult health was confounded by unobserved factors operating within families. High alcohol consumption and lacking a spouse were uniquely observed among those convicted of a crime. Criminal conviction does not appear to be causally related poor health. Convicted people may, however, have poor health behaviors and be at risk for early mortality.