Strengthening Families and CommunitiesExpanding Access to Health Care

Public Health

The millions of predominantly poor and minority people who cycle through our nation’s courts, jails, and prisons every year have far higher rates of chronic health problems, infectious diseases, substance use, and serious mental illness than the general population. But instead of providing treatment, our overly punitive system often exacerbates their problems, sending people home in even worse condition.

Through an initiative called Justice Reform for Healthy Communities we’re applying a public health lens to the crisis of mass incarceration. Using the tools of and health policy, education, and ethics, it promotes interdisciplinary solutions that curb incarceration and boost public health in some of the country’s poorest communities. Now is the time: the Affordable Care Act and bi-partisan support for criminal justice reform create unprecedented opportunity for innovation.

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ACA Cuts Would Endanger Justice-Involved People with Disabilities, Behavioral Health Needs

In 2010, aiming to provide affordable and comprehensive healthcare to people who otherwise would not have access to essential services, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. But in an effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA, federal lawmakers are currently considering legislation that, if enacted, will  undercut these services, negative...

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A New Normal

Addressing Opioid Use through the Criminal Justice System

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths that cuts across economic, racial, and geographic boundaries. In the midst of this devastation, people are struggling to find ways to save the lives of their community members. While the “war on drugs” created tough enforcement policies that resulted in a bloated justice system, ...

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  • Leah Pope, Chelsea Davis, David Cloud, Ayesha Delany-Brumsey
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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...

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

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  • Leah Pope, Kim Hopper, Chelsea Davis, David Cloud
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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...

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