Year: 2023 Source: PLoS ONE. (2023). 18(3), e0281389. SIEC No: 20230806
Rising temperatures and heatwaves increase mortality. Many of the subpopulations most vulnerable to heat-related mortality are in prisons, facilities that may exacerbate temperature exposures. Yet, there is scare literature on the  impacts of heat among incarcerated populations. We analyzed data on mortality in U.S. state and private prisons from 2001–2019 linked to daily maximum temperature data for the months of June, July, and August. Using a case-  crossover approach and distributed lag models, we estimated the association of increasing temperatures with total mortality, heart disease-related mortality, and suicides. We also examined the association with extreme heat and  heatwaves (days above the 90th percentile for the prison location) and assessed effect modification by personal, facility, and regional characteristics. There were 12,836 deaths during summer months. The majority were male (96%) and  housed in a state-operated prison (97%). A 10˚F increase was associated with a 5.2% (95% CI: 1.5%, 9.0%) increase in total mortality and a 6.7% (95% CI: -0.6%, 14.0%) increase in heart disease mortality. The association between  temperature and suicides was delayed, peaking around lag 3 (exposure at three days prior death). Two and three-day heatwaves were associated with increased total mortality of 5.5% (95% CI: 0.3%, 10.9%) and 7.4% (95% CI: 1.6%,  13.5%), respectively. The cumulative effect (lags 1–3) of an extreme heat day was associated with a 22.8% (95% CI: 3.3%, 46.0%) increase in suicides. We found the greatest increase in mortality among people � 65 years old, incarcerated less than one year, held in the Northeast region, and in urban or rural counties. These findings suggest that warm temperatures are associated with increased mortality in prisons, yet this vulnerable population’s risk has largely been  overlooked.