Criminalized Women and the Health Care System: The Case for Continuity of Services
Drawing upon research with criminalized women in Massachusetts, this article examines barriers to health care before, during, and after incarceration. Although very few of the surveyed women reported having had to forgo medical treatment because of an inability to pay, almost all of them reported being unable to access consistent, ongoing health care services. Typically, the women recalled sequential contact with dozens of providers at dozens of facilities, treatment plans that had been developed but never executed, psychotherapy that opened wounds but was terminated before healing them, and involuntary interruptions in legally prescribed courses of psychiatric medications. Acknowledging that these problems are related to wider structures of health care delivery in the United States, this article ends with a modest proposal for developing a role for health care advocates assigned to coordinate care for those with complicated medical problems to help them manage their health care needs over a long period of time.