Strengthening Families and Communities

Expanding Access to Health Care

Health problems—from diabetes, to hepatitis C, to drug abuse and mental illness—are much more common among people involved in the criminal justice system. Limited access to health care in their communities is too often the reason they end up in a police car or jail cell. And when the system doesn’t open a door to treatment, their health further deteriorates.

Applying a public health lens to the crisis of mass incarceration can change this dynamic by raising awareness and promoting solutions to both curb incarceration and improve public health in poor communities. Pioneering data sharing across criminal justice and health care systems can break cycles of arrest and incarceration and change peoples’ lives. Work with public defenders can improve legal representation and outcomes for defendants who are mentally ill, and partnerships with officials who oversee jails can prevent suicide and other types of self-harm. 

Related Work

Creating a Culture of Safety

Sentinel Event Reviews for Suicide and Self-Harm in Correctional Facilities

Since 2011, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), through its Sentinel Events Initiative, has been investigating the feasibility of using a sentinel events approach to review and learn from errors in the criminal justice system such as wrongful convictions, eyewitness misidentifications, or incidents of suicide and self-harm in custody. Recogniz...

Publication
  • Leah Pope, Ayesha Delany-Brumsey
December 16, 2016
Publication

Remote Access

Using Video Technology to Treat Substance Users on Probation and Parole in South Dakota

The challenges of accessing services for alcohol and other drug use in South Dakota may have contributed to the state’s high percentage of people convicted of low-level nonviolent offenses, particularly for drug or alcohol related offenses. To minimize these challenges, especially for parolees and probationers residing in the state’s vast rural are...

Publication
  • Alison Shames, Ram Subramanian
October 21, 2016
Publication

First-Episode Incarceration

Creating a Recovery-Informed Framework for Integrated Mental Health and Criminal Justice Responses

The number of people diagnosed with serious mental illness in the U.S. criminal justice system has reached unprecedented levels. Increasingly, people recognize that the justice system is no substitute for a well-functioning community mental health system. Although a range of targeted interventions have emerged over the past two decades, existing ap...

Publication
  • Leah Pope, Kim Hopper, Chelsea Davis, David Cloud
January 29, 2016
Publication

What Congress lifting the federal ban on needle exchange programming could mean for law enforcement

At the close of 2015, two Republican legislators, House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell led the charge to effectively lift the federal ban on providing operational support for syringe exchange programs (SEPs). Because of the increase in potential funding, such harm reduction programs will now further ex...

Blog Post
  • David Cloud
    David Cloud
  • Chelsea Davis
    Chelsea Davis
January 12, 2016
Blog Post