Health impact

Public health, access to healthcare, and mortality

  • (New) Associations between sex work laws and sex workers' health: A systematic review and meta-analysis of quantitative and qualitative studies Lucy Platt et al., December, 2018“The public health evidence clearly shows the harms associated with all forms of sex work criminalization, including regulatory systems, which effectively leave the most marginalized, and typically the majority of, sex workers outside of the law.”
  • The High Costs of Low Risk: The Crisis of America's Aging Prison Population The Osborne Association, May, 2018
  • Integrated Health Care and Criminal Justice Data Viewing the Intersection of Public Safety, Public Health, and Public Policy Through a New Lens: Lessons from Camden, NJ Harvard Kennedy School, April, 2018(This study suggests that we should shift from reacting to immediate health & crime crises as distinct events to focusing on holistic approaches that result in better individual outcomes, increased public safety, and reduced system costs.)
  • The Detention and Forced Medical Treatment of Pregnant Women: A Human Rights Perspective American Constitution Society, March, 2018(This report argues that laws authorizing the detention and forced medical treatment of pregnant women suspected of drug or alcohol abuse violate human rights standards and are a mistaken legal response to address individual and public health issues.)
  • Keeping Kids and Parents Together: A Healthier Approach to Sentencing in Louisiana Human Impact Partners, March, 2018“In this report, we evaluate the health and equity impacts of Primary Caretaker legislation in the state of Louisiana. If passed, this legislation would expand the ability to set community-based sentences for parents.”
  • (New) How the Criminalization of Pregnancy Robs Women of Reproductive Autonomy Michele Goodwin, November, 2017“More than one-third of states consider pregnant women's illicit drug use a form of child abuse, resulting in unprecedented forms of criminal and civil punishment”
  • Injuries associated with bunk beds that occur in jail Randall T. Lodera and Jocelyn Cole Young, October, 2017“Jails account for 29% of all bunk bed injuries resulting in an ED visit in the USA (for people age 10 and over). Addressing this problem will require a multidisciplinary approach involving medicine, material engineering, and criminal justice.”
  • Prison Health Care: Costs and Quality The Pew Charitable Trust, October, 2017(This report paint a comprehensive picture of how states fund and deliver prison health care, how they compare with one another, and some reasons for differences.)
  • Forensic Patients in State Psychiatric Hospitals: 1999-2016 National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, September, 2017“The results from this study indicate that, over a little less than two decades, states have seen an increase in the number of forensic patients who are present in their state hospitals.”
  • Prisoners in Ohio's Execution List Defined By Intellectual Impairment, Mental Illness, Trauma, and Young Age Fair Punishment Project, August, 2017“Ohio is poised to violate constitutional limitations by scheduling the executions of nearly a dozen individuals with devastating impairments, including mental illnesses, childhood abuse, and intellectual disabilities.”
  • Review of the Federal Bureau of Prisons' Use of Restrictive Housing for Inmates with Mental Illness U.S. Department of Justice, July, 2017“BOP Policies Do Not Adequately Address the Confinement of Inmates with Mental Illness in RHUs, and the BOP Does Not Sufficiently Track or Monitor Such Inmates”
  • America's Toxic Prisons: The Environmental Injustices of Mass Incarceration Earth Island Journal and Truthout, June, 2017“The toxic impact of prisons extends far beyond any individual prison, or any specific region in the United States. Mass incarceration in the US impacts the health of prisoners, prison-adjacent communities, and local ecosystems from coast to coast.”
  • (New) Criminalizing Pregnancy: Policing Pregnant Women Who Use Drugs in the USA Amnesty International, May, 2017“Often known as "fetal assault", "chemical endangerment" or "personhood" laws, these measures have been used to arrest and prosecute women who experience pregnancy complications and conditions such as drug dependence.”
  • When did prisons become acceptable mental healthcare facilities? Stanford Law School Three Strikes Project, May, 2017“While the overall state prison population has decreased dramatically, the number of prisoners with mental illness continues to climb and is expected grow in the years ahead.”
  • Using Time to Reduce Crime: Federal Prisoner Survey Results Show Ways to Reduce Recidivism Families Against Mandatory Minimums, May, 2017“An estimated 45 percent of federal prisoners have mental health and behavioral problems...Two-thirds of prisoners who responded to our survey said they had not received mental or behavioral health counseling while in federal prison.”
  • A Crisis in Search of Data: The Revolving Door of Serious Mental Illness in Super Utilization Treatment Advocacy Center, April, 2017“National or state-level data that quantify the role and cost of individuals with serious mental illness on law enforcement, corrections, emergency medical or homelessness services do not exist. ”
  • The steep cost of medical co-pays in prison puts health at risk Wendy Sawyer, Prison Policy Initiative, April, 2017“In Michigan, it would take over a week to earn enough for a single $5 co-pay, making it the free world equivalent of over $300. In 13 states co-pays are equivalent to charging minimum wage workers more than $200.”
  • A New Normal: Helping the Criminal Justice System Address Opioid Overdoses Vera Institute of Justice, February, 2017“[O]ver the last decade communities and public officials have increasingly called for an approach to drug use that employs harm reduction principles, making the issue a public health concern rather than one to be managed by the criminal justice system.”
  • Unlocking solitary confinement: Ending Extreme Isolation in Nevada State Prisons The ACLU of Nevada, Solitary Watch, Nevada Disability Advocacy & Law Center, February, 2017“In this report, we found that solitary confinement is, in fact, widely used in the state of Nevada, often for prolonged periods of time, and that many of the people held there are denied basic human needs like daily exercise and sufficient medical care.”
  • The Death Penalty in Five Florida Counties: Disproportionately Used Against Persons with Significant Mental Impairments Fair Punishment Project, January, 2017“These findings have raised a legitimate question as to whether Florida’s capital punishment scheme–even one with a unanimous jury requirement– is capable of limiting application of the death penalty to the most culpable offenders.”
  • Correcting Food Policy in Washington Prisons: How the DOC Makes Healthy Food Choices Impossible for Incarcerated People & What Can Be Done Prison Voice Washington, October, 2016“When the Department of Corrections turned over responsibility for food services to Correctional Industries (CI) substituted 95% industrialized, plastic-wrapped, sugar-filled “food products” for locally prepared healthy food.”
  • We are not disposable: The Toxic Impacts of Prisons and Jails Californians United for a Responsible Budget, October, 2016“Pollution and environmental degradation created by prisons and jails exacerbate public health risks for not only incarcerated people but also for the local communities where detention facilities are sited.”
  • Locked Up and Locked Down: Segregation of Inmates with Mental Illness Anna Guy, Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities Prison Project, September, 2016“[Protection and Advocacy Agencies] have received countless reports of abuse and neglect of inmates in segregation, including prolonged isolation, deplorable conditions, inadequate care, increased self-harm and suicide attempts, and even death.”
  • National Survey of Prison Health Care: Selected Findings U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, July, 2016“This report presents selected findings on the provision of health care services in U.S. state prisons.”
  • Texas Custodial Death Report Police, jail, and prison deaths 2005-2015 Texas Justice Initiative, July, 2016(This report examines who is dying in the Texas criminal justice system and how they are dying.)
  • Breaking Promises: Violations of the Massachusetts Pregnancy Standards & Anti-Shackling Law The Prison Birth Project and Prisoners' Legal Services of Massachusetts, May, 2016“Far too often Massachusetts prisons and jails violate the law in both policy and practice, undermining the public will and subjecting pregnant women to illegal, unsafe, and degrading treatment.”
  • Assessing Inmate Cause of Death: Deaths in Custody Reporting Program and National Death Index Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, 2016“The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has collected data annually on inmates who died in state prison and local jail and the circumstances surrounding these deaths since...2000.”
  • Paying the Price: Failure to Deliver HIV Services in Lousiana Parish Jails Human Rights Watch, 2016“The state of Louisiana is 'ground zero' for the dual epidemics of HIV and incarceration.”
  • Breaking the Silence: Civil and Human Rights Violations Resulting from Medical Neglect and Abuse of Women of Color in Los Angeles County Jails Dignity and Power Now, August, 2015“This Report by Dignity and Power Now (“DPN”) documents how jail and prison officials violated the rights of seven women of color, and highlights the mental health consequences of the medical neglect and abuse these women suffered.”
  • Callous and Cruel: Use of Force against Inmates with Mental Disabilities in US Jails and Prisons Human Rights Watch, May, 2015“This 127-page report details incidents in which correctional staff have deluged prisoners with painful chemical sprays, shocked them with powerful electric stun weapons, and strapped them for days in restraining chairs or beds.”
  • Arrest-Related Deaths Program: Data Quality Profile Bureau of Justice Statistics, March, 2015“Data from the ARD represent a national accounting of persons who have died during the process of arrest, including homicides by law enforcement personnel and deaths attributed to suicide, intoxication, accidental injury, and natural causes.”
  • Reproductive Injustice: The State of Reproductive Health Care for Women in New York State Prisons Correctional Association of New York, February, 2015“Overall, however, we found that reproductive health care for women in New York State prisons is woefully substandard, with women routinely facing poor-quality care and assaults on their basic human dignity and reproductive rights.”
  • "If They Hand You a Paper, You Sign It": A Call to End the Sterilization of Women in Prison Rachel Roth and Sara L. Ainsworth, Hastings Women's Law Journal, January, 2015“[A] number of states allow the sterilization of incarcerated women—flouting important policy norms—and that medical providers and their professional organizations play key roles in sanctioning and carrying out these procedures.”
  • No Escape: Exposure to Toxic Coal Waste at State Correctional Institution Fayette Abolitionist Law Center, September, 2014“More than 81% of responding prisoners (61/75) reported respiratory, throat, and sinus conditions.”
  • Selected Issues in Mental Health and Corrections: A Collection and Summary of Research Disability Rights Nebraska, 2014“Although only 7% of inmates were in solitary confinement, they accounted for 53% of acts of self-harm.”
  • Facilitating Access to Health Care Coverage for Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth Models for Change, December, 2013“Youth involved in the juvenile justice system have extensive physical and behavior health needs. The majority have at least one mental health condition and substance abuse is also very common.”
  • (New) Mortality After Prison Release: Opioid Overdose and Other Causes of Death, Risk Factors, and Time Trends From 1999 to 2009 Ingrid A. Binswanger et al., October, 2013“The leading cause of death in former prisoners was overdose. Pharmaceutical opioids were the most common substances involved in these deaths.”
  • Managing Prison Health Care Spending The Pew Charitable Trust, The MacArthur Foundation, October, 2013“Pew found that prison health care spending in these 44 states totaled $6.5 billion in 2008, out of $36.8 billion in overall institutional correctional expenditures.”
  • Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Colorado's continued warehousing of mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement ACLU of Colorado, July, 2013“As of March 2013, CDOC housed at least 87 seriously mentally ill prisoners in solitary confinement, 54 of whom have been living in isolation for over a year and 14 of whom have been in solitary confinement for more than 4 years.”
  • A Death Before Dying: Solitary Confinement on Death Row ACLU, July, 2013“93 percent of states lock up their death row prisoners for 22 or more hours per day. Most of these prisoners live under conditions of extreme social isolation and enforced idleness.”
  • Buried Alive: Solitary Confinement in the US Detention System Physicians for Human Rights, April, 2013“...solitary confinement can cause severe and lasting physiological/psychological harm. Moreover, in many cases, the resulting harm rises to the level of torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, in violation of domestic and international law.”
  • The Federal Bureau of Prisons' Compassionate Release Program U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector, General Evaluation and Inspections Division, April, 2013“Procedures and timeliness standards do not reference the compassionate release program or acknowledge the special circumstances of an inmate requesting compassionate release (particularly those with terminal medical conditions/limited life expectancies).”
  • (New) Arrests of and Forced Interventions on Pregnant Women in the United States, 1973-2005: Implications for Women's Legal Status and Public Health Lynn Paltrow and Jeanne Flavin, April, 2013(This research shows that arrests, detentions, and forced interventions of pregnant women disproportionately impact Black and low-income women.)
  • (New) Roe v Wade and the new Jane Crow: Reproductive rights in the age of mass incarceration Lynn Paltrow, January, 2013“Efforts to establish separate legal”
  • The Answer is No: Too Little Compassionate Release in US Federal Prisons Human Rights Watch and Families Against Mandatory Minimums, November, 2012“To satisfy human rights requirements, prisoners should have access to judicial review or review by a similarly independent, objective tribunal that applies basic due process requirements to decisions regarding the lawfulness of their ongoing detention.”
  • "She Doesn't Deserve to be Treated Like This": Prisons as Sites of Reproductive Injustice Rachel Roth, Center for Women Policy Studies, July, 2012“[T]he well-established nature of women’s rights has not stopped prison and jail personnel from trying to deny women abortion care, or at least obstruct women’s access to abortion.”
  • At America's Expense The Mass Incarceration of the Elderly ACLU, June, 2012“Based on statistical analyses of available data, this report estimates that releasing an aging prisoner will save states, on average, $66,294 per year per prisoner, including healthcare, other public benefits, parole, and any housing costs or tax revenue.”
  • Eligibility and Capacity Impact Use of Flexibilities to Reduce Inmates' Time Government Accountability Office, February, 2012“Increased funding would have reduced the Residential Drug Abuse Treatment Program wait lists and enabled eligible inmates to enter the program early enough to earn their maximum allowable sentence reductions.”
  • Out and Down: The Effects of Incarceration on Psychiatric Disorders and Disability University of Pennsylvania, The Pennsylvania State University, University of Minnesota, February, 2011“Incarceration has a robust relationship with subsequent mood disorders, related to feeling”
  • Report on Suicides Completed in the California Department of Corrections January 1, 2012 - June 30, 2912 Raymond F. Patterson, M.D., D.F.A.P.A., 2011“In 2012, a CDCR inmate died by suicide every 11.4 days on average.”
  • Criminal Justice Interventions for Offenders With Mental Illness Evaluation of Mental Health Courts in Bronx and Brooklyn, New York Urban Institute, 2011“Findings from the impact analysis indicate that mental health court participants are significantly less likely to recidivate, as compared to similar offenders with mental illness who experience business-as-usual court processing...”
  • Ending and Defending Against HIV Criminalization: State and Federal Laws and Prosecutions The Center for HIV Law and Policy, November, 2010“Thirty-two states and two U.S. territories have HIV-specific criminal statutes and thirty-six states have reported proceedings in which HIV-positive people have been arrested and/or prosecuted for consensual sex, biting, and spitting.”
  • New York State Assisted Outpatient Program Evaluation New York State Department of Public Health, June, 2009
  • Medical Problems of Prisoners Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, 2008“An estimated 44% of state inmates and 39% of federal inmates reported a current medical problem other than a cold or virus.”
  • HIV in Prisons, 2006 Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, 2008“The overall rate of estimated confirmed AIDS among the prison population (0.46%) was more than 2½ times the rate in the U.S. general population (0.17%).”
  • Health and Prisoner Reentry: How Physical, Mental, and Substance Abuse Conditions Shape the Process of Reintegration Urban Institute, February, 2008“Nearly all returning prisoners—8 in 10 men and 9 in 10 women—had chronic health conditions requiring treatment or management.”
  • Expert Report by Dr. Noel on Medical Care at Ely State Prison American Civil Liberties Union, December, 2007“[T]he medical care provided at Ely State Prison amounts to the grossest possible medical malpractice, and the most shocking and callous disregard for human life and human suffering, that I have ever encountered in the medical profession...”
  • HIV in Prisons, 2005 Bureau of Justice Statistics, September, 2007“There were 22,480 state and federal inmates who were HIV infected or had confirmed AIDS on Dec. 31, 2005, which was a decrease from 22,936 at the end of 2004... [t]he 2005 decline was the sixth consecutive year the number has fallen.”
  • Release from Prison A High Risk of Death for Former Inmates New England Journal of Medicine, January, 2007“The mortality rate among former inmates was 3.5 times (95% CI, 3.2 to 3.8) that among state residents of the same age, sex, and race. The attributable-risk percentage was 71%, amounting to 316 excess deaths.”
  • Medical Causes of Death in State Prisons, 2001-2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, 2007“Overall, 89 percent of all state prisoner deaths were attributed to medical conditions and 8 percent were due to suicide or homicide.”
  • Medical Problems of Jail Inmates Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2006“More than a third of jail inmates reported having a current medical problem.”
  • HIV in Prisons, 2004 Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 2006“The overall rate of confirmed AIDS among the prison population (0.50%) was more than 3 times the rate in the U.S. general population (0.15%).”(Although the percentage of prisoners with HIV has decresed, problems remain.)
  • Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates Bureau of Justice Statistics, September, 2006“Female inmates had higher rates of mental health problems than male inmates (State prisons: 73% of females and 55% of males; Federal prisons: 61% of females and 44% of males; local jails: 75% of females and 63% of males).”
  • The Spiral of Risk: Health Care Provision to Incarcerated Women National Council on Crime and Delinquency, March, 2006“Female offenders commonly face a wide range of serious health problems.... Their health problems typically predate their involvement in the justice system, are often exacerbated while they are imprisoned, and continue to deteriorate after release.”
  • Treatment Instead of Prisons: A Roadmap for Sentencing and Correctional Policy in Wisconsin Justice Strategies, January, 2006“Absent a major investment of tax dollars in treatment services, however, we found that the state is likely to face mounting prison populations pressures in coming years due to growth in nonviolent admissions and revocations of post-release supervision.”
  • Ethical Considerations for Research Involving Prisoners Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, Board on Health Sciences Policy, 2006(A review of current research practices regarding prison subjects with recommendations.)
  • HIV in Prisons, 2003 Bureau of Justice Statistics, September, 2005
  • Black Male Incarceration Rates and the Relatively High Rate of AIDS Infection Among African-American Women and Men Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley, July, 2005“Our results reveal that the higher incarceration rates among black males over this period explain a substantial share of the racial disparity in AIDS infection between black women and women of other racial and ethnic groups.”
  • HIV in Prisons and Jails, 2002 Bureau of Justice Statistics, December, 2004
  • Prison Needle Exchange: Lessons from a Comprehensive Review of International Evidence and Experience Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, October, 2004
  • Georgia's Aging Inmate Population Georgia Department of Corrections, June, 2004“Georgia, with a prison population in excess of 47,000 inmates has the sixth largest prison system in the nation. At the end of FY 2002 4,025 inmates, or nearly one in ten were 50 or older.”
  • Hepatitis Testing and Treatment in State Prisons Bureau of Justice Statistics, April, 2004
  • HIV in Prisons, 2001 Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, 2004
  • Corrections Health Care Costs Council of State Governments, January, 2004
  • Correctional Health: The Missing Key to Improving the Public's Health and Safety Massachusetts Public Health Association, October, 2003
  • Ill-Equipped: U.S. Prisons and Offenders with Mental Illness Human Rights Watch, October, 2003
  • Identifying the HIV/AIDS/STD-related Needs of African American Ex-Offenders Council on Crime and Justice, April, 2003“Health effects associated with incarceration exacerbate existing health disparities in the larger African American community.”
  • Prevention and Control of Infections with Hepatitis Viruses in Correctional Settings Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, January, 2003
  • Drug Treatment in the Criminal Justice System The Current State of Knowledge Urban Institute, January, 2003“Prisoners are not getting the drug treatment programs that would reduce their drug abuse and criminal behavior.”
  • HIV in Prisons, 2000 Bureau of Justice Statistics, October, 2002
  • Treatment of Incarcerated Women With Substance Abuse and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), July, 2002
  • Consensus Project Report Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project, June, 2002(project coordinated by the Council of State Governments (CSG))
  • (New) The War on Drugs and the War on Abortion: Some Initial Thoughts on the Connections, Intersections, and the Effects Lynn Paltrow, May, 2002(By recognizing the similarity between reproductive rights and the drug war there is an opportunity for a deeper understanding of each issue and a basis for developing analysis and action that can counteract the forces of punishment and prohibition.)
  • Disease Profile of Texas Prison Inmates National Criminal Justice Reference Service (NCJRS), April, 2002
  • The Health Status of Soon-to-be-Released Inmates A Report to Congress National Commission on Correctional Health Care, March, 2002
  • Improving the Link Between Research and Drug Treatment in Correctional Settings Urban Institute, 2002
  • HIV in Prisons and Jails, 1999 Bureau of Justice Statistics, July, 2001
  • Mental Health Treatment in State Prisons Bureau of Justice Statistics, July, 2001(None of the prison systems have any idea how many mentally ill prisoners they have. Using the BJS reports for anything other than whether or not prisoners identified as mentally ill are actually receiving services would be a mistake.)
  • Incarceration of the Terminally Ill: Current Practices in the United States GRACE Project, March, 2001
  • Medical Problems of Inmates, 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics, January, 2001“Presents survey data on offenders who were in prison who reported a medical problem since admission or a physical impairment or mental condition”
  • Federal Prisoner Health Care Copayment Act of 2000 Cost Estimate Congressional Budget Office, August, 2000“some indigent prisoners could not pay the fee, and that assessing such a fee would deter some prisoners from initiating some visits.”
  • Federal Prisons: Responses to Questions Related to Containing Health Care Costs for an Increasing Inmate Population General Accounting Office, June, 2000
  • Drug Use, Testing, and Treatment in Jails Bureau of Justice Statistics, May, 2000“Most Jails that test for drugs find at least one inmate who tests positive”
  • Federal Prisons: Containing Health Care Costs for an Increasing Inmate Population General Accounting Office, April, 2000
  • Federal Prisons: Containing Health Care Costs for an Increasing Inmate Population General Accounting Office, April, 2000
  • Health Care in New York State Prisons Correctional Association, February, 2000
  • From Prisons to Hospitals and Back The Criminalization of Mental Illness Campaign for an Effective Crime Policy, January, 2000
  • Abuse of Women in Custody: Sexual Misconduct and Shackling of Pregnant Women Amnesty International, 2000(includes a detailed state by state survey)
  • HIV in Prisons 1997 Bureau of Justice Statistics, November, 1999“Rates of HIV infection and AIDS-related deaths drop among the Nation's prisoners”
  • Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates and Probationers Bureau of Justice Statistics, July, 1999“More than a quarter million prison and jail inmates are identified as mentally ill”
  • Prisons and Jails: Hospitals of Last Resort: The Need for Diversion and Discharge Planning for Incarcerated People with Mental Illness in New York Correctional Association of New York and the Urban Justice Center, 1999
  • Report on the Psychiatric Management of John Salvi in Massachusetts Department of Correction Facilities 1995-1996 University of Massachusetts Medical Center Department of Psychiatry, January, 1997“ our opinion, the number of full-time equivalent psychiatrists within the DOC is far too low to meet the psychiatric needs of the inmate population.”
  • Prison Suicide: An Overview and Guide to Prevention U.S. Department of Justice, June, 1995“During the past 10 years, the rate of suicide in prisons throughout the country was 20.6 deaths per 100,000 inmates. States with small prison populations appear to have exceedingly high rates of suicide — often more than 2.5 times the national average.”

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  • Feb 21, 2019:
    Volunteer Attorney Stephen Raher will be presenting his paper “The Company Store and the Literally Captive Market: Consumer Law in Prisons and Jails” at the Consumer Law Conference at Berkeley Law School. The paper will be presented and discussed at 4:00pm.

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