Over 100 million Americans have criminal records, and the U.S. incarcerates seven times more citizens than most developed countries. The burden of incarceration disproportionately affects people of color and ethnic minorities, and those living in poverty. While 95% of incarcerated people return to society, recidivism rates are high with nearly 75% arrested again within five years of release. Criminal records impede access to employment and other social services such as shelter and health care.
Academic health centers (AHCs), particularly those that are publicly funded institutions, have as their mission the treatment of disadvantaged populations, the training of the next generation of clinicians, and the development and dissemination of new knowledge to reduce the burden of disease and improve the health of individuals and populations. Incarcerated populations have the most prevalent and acute disease burden and health disparities in the United States, even in comparison with inner-city populations.
As pandemic influenza becomes an increasing threat, partnerships between public health and correctional facilities are necessary to prepare criminal justice systems adequately. In September 2007, the Planning for Pandemic Influenza in Prison Settings Conference took place in Georgia. This article describes the collaboration and ongoing goals established between administrative leaders and medical staff in Georgia prison facilities and public health officials. Sessions covered topics such as nonpharmaceutical interventions, health care surge capacity, and prison-community interfaces.
Although stimulant medications are the mainstay of effective intervention for attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), their use presents a daunting scenario for psychiatry, nursing, and custody staff in correctional settings, where reported prevalence rates range from 9% to 45%. The reported rates, however, may overestimate actual prevalence in general and need for treatment in particular.
Most studies assessing the burden of psychiatric disorders in juvenile correctional facilities have been based on small or male-only samples or have focused on a single disorder. Using electronic data routinely collected by the Texas juvenile correctional system and its contracted medical provider organization, we estimated the prevalence of selected psychiatric disorders among youths committed to Texas juvenile correctional facilities between January 1, 2004, and December 31, 2008 (N = 11,603). Ninety-eight percent were diagnosed with at least one of the disorders.
Data from the Texas prison system and the Texas Vital Statistics Bureau were used to identify and assess the leading medical causes of death from 1992 to 2003 among male prisoners in Texas (N = 4,026). The leading medical causes of death were infection, cancer, cardiovascular disease (CVD), liver disease, and respiratory disease. Of these, only cancer showed a significant average annual increase in crude death rates (2.5% [0.2% to 4.9%]).
The rates of HIV, STD, and hepatitis infection are high among persons entering prisons, and many of these persons engage in high-risk behaviors after release. Therefore, innovative programs that reduce risk behaviors after release are urgently needed. Project START developed and evaluated two interventions designed for young men leaving prison. This article describes both interventions: the single-session intervention and the enhanced intervention. The single-session intervention focused on HIV/STD/hepatitis prevention only.
A group of 38 researchers, policy makers, and practitioners from seven countries, speaking nine languages and representing diverse perspectives, gathered in May 2009 in Orlando, Florida, to establish the International Network for Justice Health. The Network can assist policy makers, researchers, and practitioners to improve the health of justice-involved populations; however, achieving progress will require individual and organizational commitment to working with colleagues across different disciplines and different countries.