Student Curriculum

This is a digital curriculum for medical students across the country to gain fundamental knowledge of the criminal justice system, health issues specific to justice-involved patients, and ways to advocate for criminal justice reform.

This curriculum builds on innovative correctional health curricula being developed at UMass, Harvard, and Cornell, in conjunction with the ACCJH. Our goal is for medical students across the country to be excited and better equipped to get involved in correctional health policy and practice.

Through this curriculum, we hope not just to educate but also to build a community of student advocates.

Learning Objectives

After completing the curriculum, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the scope of criminal justice involvement from a population perspective and the downstream impact of mass incarceration on social determinants of health.
  • Describe evidence-based approaches to treatment of the most common medical problems affecting justice-involved populations, including mental illness, substance use disorders, HIV, and hepatitis C
  • List three unique benefits and three challenges to working in correctional settings 
  • Increase comfort and confidence in caring for a patient incarcerated in a prison or jail
  • Name at least one health care issue that is important to address in each of the following sub-populations: adolescents, geriatric patients, women, and LGBT persons.
  • Identify one current policy issue in criminal justice health and a method to advocate for reform


Digital Curriculum

Overview of Criminal Justice Health - Warren Ferguson, MD

Dr. Ferguson describes the population in the U.S. involved with the criminal justice system including racial and ethnic disparities and the downstream impact on the lives of individuals, families and communities. He will then turn his attention to current efforts to reduce mass incarceration and lays out a blueprint for engagement of academic institutions to harness their capabilities in clinical care, education and research to tackle one of the country's most vexing crises.

Care and Treatment of Youthful Offenders - Michelle Staples-Horne, MD, MS, MPH

Dr. Staples-Horne first offers an overview of the juvenile justice system and the context for caring for adolescents. She then discusses the specific health needs of justice-involved youth, and highlights challenges and opportunities for improving health care for youth in correctional settings.

Primary Care in Correctional Settings - Arthur Brewer, MD

Dr. Brewer provides an overview of primary care in correctional settings. He details guidelines from the American Correctional Association and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care, connecting accreditation criteria to primary care practices. He also examines various models for primary care delivery and unique challenges in correctional primary care.

Infectious Disease and the Correctional Environment - Lara Strick, MD

Dr. Strick provides an overview of infectious diseases in corrections, with an emphasis on HIV, hepatitis C, and tuberculosis. Risks of transmission and challenges for infection control in correctional settings are also covered in detail.

Ethics in Criminal Justice Health - Marc Stern, MD

Dr. Stern provides a framework for approaching medical ethics, and ethics in criminal justice health in particular. He offers several cases in order to highlight key principles, including a hunger strike and a planned lethal injection.

Health Risks of Jail/NYC Jail System - Ross MacDonald, MD

Dr. MacDonald gives an overview of the jail system in New York City. He also highlights some of the health risks associated with incarceration, particularly in jails.

Opioid Use Disorder Treatment and Incarceration - Jody Rich, MD

Dr. Rich gives an overview of opioid use disorder and its treatment. He focuses in particular on how opioid use disorder is treated among incarcerated patients and what improvements can be made.