Testa on, "The Contribution of Criminal Justice Systems to Reproductive Health Disparities" in the American Journal of Public Health
Recent research suggests that policing is failing to protect and serve Black communities, and that collaboration between the public health community and law enforcement is important for creating more equitable policing.
The impact of how racial disparity in the criminal justice system affects reproductive health for Black Americans was explored in a commentary piece by Alexander Testa, PhD, professor at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in San Antonio, that was published recently in the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH).
Citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, Guttmacher Institute, the New Orleans Police Department, and a study published in AJPH by Jacqueline Jahn, PhD, MPH, assistant professor at Drexel University School of Public Health, Testa explained that the study is an important piece of research in understanding how racial disparities in policing are affecting reproductive health, an area that has so far been overlooked.
According to Jahn’s research, Black birthing persons are exposed to an annual average of 43.7 proactive police stops per 100,000 population, compared with 30.7 stops on average in neighborhoods where White birthing persons reside.
The study also found that Black birthing persons experience preterm birth at a rate that is nearly twice as high as that of White birthing persons, 15.8% for Black people vs. 8.0% for White people.
“The study by Jahn et al. … forwards research at the intersection of criminal justice and public health in a rigorous analysis that illuminates the unambiguous racial disparities in reproductive health and proactive policing; their study also details how the two intersect,” Testa said.
“Most strikingly, the core findings detail that as levels of proactive policing in neighborhoods increase, the rate of preterm birth increases for Black birthing persons but actually slightly decreases for white birthing persons,” Testa said. “Taken together, these findings demonstrate that policing operates in a blatantly different manner for Black than for white individuals.”
Testa said this study suggests that collaboration between the public health community and law enforcement is important for creating more equitable policing.
“Improving police–community relations is good policy overall, but as Jahn et al. have shown us, it may also be good reproductive health policy,” Testa said.
Read the full article here.