The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

4123.0: Tuesday, November 18, 2003 - 12:30 PM

Abstract #59270

Tackling policy barriers to community reentry after jail and prison: A community-based participatory approach to policy research and advocacy

Cassandra Ritas, MPP1, Eric Canales2, Nicholas Freudenberg, DrPH3, Ann-Gel Palermo, MPH4, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH2, and Marc Rogers, PhD1. (1) Center on AIDS, Drugs, and Community Health, Hunter College, 425 East 25th Street, room 817, New York, NY 10010, 212-481-4686, critas@hunter.cuny.edu, (2) Center for Urban Epidemiologic Studies (CUES), New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10029, (3) City University of New York, Program in Urban Public Health at Hunter College, 425 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, (4) Center for Multicultural and Community Affairs, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave Levy Place, Box 1257, New York, NY 10029

Many of our poorest and most disenfranchised communities are facing catastrophic health threats. Public policy has failed these communities, largely because policymakers are unaware of or unresponsive to community identified needs. Community-based participatory research (CBPR) practitioners, including community and institutional partners, have the potential to revitalize policy discussions both in the community and at city hall. This presentation describes one CBPR group, The Harlem Urban Research Center(URC), which worked to realize that potential. The URCís policy work group has been working to change some of the policies that contribute to health disparities in East and Central Harlem. To this end the work group has chosen the issue of reintegration of people returning from jail and prison. More than 6000 people return to these communities from jail and prison each year. This population has disproportionate rates of HIV, Hepatitis, Asthma and other chronic and communicable diseases. By assessing barriers to treatment, housing, employment, and health care, the work group developed recommendations for policymakers. Through community forums, coalitions with other advocacy groups, and meetings with legislators, the work group advocated for policy change. In this presentation we use the example of advocating for improved policies for people coming out of jail and prison to 1) describe the process of moving from policy research to policy advocacy; 2) highlight challenges to integrating advocacy into a CBPR framework; 3) present some strategies for overcoming these obstacles; 4) look at the unique obstacles and opportunities created by the current fiscal crisis.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Community-Based Public Health, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: New York Academy of Medicine; Urban Research Center; Center on AIDS, Drugs, and Community Health.
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: I am employed by the Hunter Center on AIDS, Drugs, and Community Health, which receives a subcontract from the New York Academy of Medicine to provide support for the Urban Research Center's policy work.

Innovative Applications of Community-Based Research

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA