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Doing Time in the DepressionEveryday Life in Texas and California Prisons$
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Ethan Blue

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814709405

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814709405.001.0001

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A Dark Cloud Would Go Over

A Dark Cloud Would Go Over

Death and Dying

(p.189) 7 A Dark Cloud Would Go Over
Doing Time in the Depression

Ethan Blue

NYU Press

This chapter focuses on death and dying in Texas and California prisons in the 1930s. Mortality rates in Texas generally declined during the period, even as the prison population grew in total numbers. This probably reflected the centralization of the medical system at Texas prisons. In the same years California's mortality rate was broadly stable, and generally lower than Texas'. Nonetheless, mortality rates in California and Texas penitentiaries were significantly higher than rates for the general populations of their respective states and of the nation overall. This was true despite the fact that the prisons consisted overwhelmingly of young men, who, given their youth, would presumably not die in large numbers. Racism differentiated and allocated life chances. Data is unavailable from California, but evidence from Texas confirms that black prisoners died at higher rates than Mexican or white prisoners.

Keywords:   prisoner death, dying, Texas prisons, California prisons, prisoners, mortality rates, black prisoners

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