Date of Award
Master of Public Health (MPH)
School of Public Health
To estimate the effect of openings jail in rural counties on county-level chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis prevalence rates.
We used county-level data from the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (2005-2017) to obtain chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis rates, and the American Correctional Association’s National Jail and Adult Detention Directory (2013-2014) to locate rural jail openings. Using a generalized synthetic control method, we estimated the effect of opening jails in 41 rural counties between 2010 and 2012 across the United States on sexually-transmitted infections.
We found an average treatment effect for chlamydia prevalence rates in the years following rural jail openings to be increased by 30.6% (p=0.019). For gonorrhea, this effect was 43.3% (p=0.0015). Our sensitivity analysis highlights that gonorrhea may also have spillover effects on nearby rural counties without jails (57.2%; p>0.001). Our results for syphilis rates were inconclusive as we found a significant effect in the years following rural jail openings 25.4%; p=0.036), but sensitivity analyses suggest that this association was driven by one county with high prevalence rate.
Opening a jail in rural counties is associated with increased rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the surrounding county in which it is sited.
Harvey, Tyler, "Association Between Opening A Jail And Sexually Transmitted Infections In Rural Counties Across The United States" (2020). Public Health Theses. 1946.