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.
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.
Correctional facilities typically house large numbers of persons in close and crowded conditions for long periods. Clusters of communicable diseases ranging from simple viral upper respiratory infections to more serious threats, such as tuberculosis (TB), infections with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and influenza, often emerge in these surroundings. The recent H1N1 influenza pandemic highlights the importance of outbreak prevention and containment preparedness, particularly in congregate settings.
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.