Released Prisoners Higher Death Rates in Washington - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Released Prisoners Higher Death Rates in Washington

Many state prison programs are specifically designed to help prisoners after they get out. But a new study is showing that many prisoners fall into the same old habits after they are released.

The new study says that people who have been released for less than two weeks are 13 times more likely to die, when compared to the general public. Drug overdoses are the number one killer, followed by heart disease, and homicide.

Prison officials say they plan to use the numbers to find out better ways to help prisoners, including putting more emphasis on drug abuse classes. They say prisoners often find the same drugs even after prison time.

 Director of Washington State Prison's Health Services Department, Dr. Mark Stern says, "I think while deaths are always a bad thing, what's good is that we can examine ourselves are willing to examine ourselves and learn from it."

Stern says this is the first research done of its kind in the United States. He hopes that it will be the beginning of more study. The research was reported by the New England Journal of Medicine and looked at more than 27,000 men and 4,000 women released between 1999 and 2003.