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Being in prison is known to adversely affect mental health, but it’s not just the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. who suffer.

According to a new University of California, Irvine study, the 12.2 million individuals arrested every year also experience mental health repercussions.

“For the first time, our research documents the significant association between arrest and mental health issues,” said lead author Naomi Sugie, assistant professor of criminology, law & society. “Arrested people face social stigma, feelings of powerlessness and alienation, time-consuming bureaucratic processes and uncertainty about the future – all of which stress mental health.”

Researchers analyzed data from Round 1 to Round 16 of the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997, conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which began following the lives of a nationally representative sample of about 9,000 12- to 18-year-olds that year. Their education, employment, mental health, contact with the criminal justice system and other types of information have been tracked since then.

“Being arrested accounts for nearly half of the mental health issues associated with prison time,” Sugie said. Kristin Turney, associate professor of sociology, is the study’s co-author.

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