151266 Impact of incarceration and reentry: Strategies to provide health services to those that return home

Tuesday, November 6, 2007: 2:30 PM

Natasha Williams, Esq, PhD, MPH , Bailey and Glasser, LLP, Largo, MD
Henrie Treadwell, PhD , Community Voices, Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA
Nearly 2.2 million men and women are incarcerated in prisons and jails in the United States and a growing body of evidence points to levels of ill health and inadequate treatment while incarcerated. Many inmates are African American men and women. It is estimated that over 650,000 individuals will be released each year from correctional institutions and return to their communities. Many of the individuals will return ill-prepared to re-integrate back into their communities. Many of these individuals suffer from chronic diseases, substance abuse, mental illness, HIV/AIDS, and infectious diseases. Once released, many former prisoners have no access to health insurance and, thus, no entrée to health services. Additionally, ex-offenders often return to the communities with the fewest resources – cities, towns, and neighborhoods that are already poor, overburdened, and with limited health resources. The effect is to exacerbate health disparities already present.

Many more are denied the opportunity to successfully reintegrate into society due to restrictive laws and policies impacting housing, medical care, employment, education and the right to vote. As this population returns home, strategies must be developed to assist in their reintegration and collaborations between criminal justice entities and community organizations must be forged.

Community Voices at Morehouse School of Medicine is actively involved in local and state dialogue about the distribution of resources, ensuring that underserved communities have a voice in policy dialogues through eight learning laboratories. The purpose of this panel is to discuss the issues surrounding prisoner health and reentry by convening project directors from some of our learning laboratories to discuss the innovative strategies developed to help successfully reintegrate former inmates into their communities and to provide them with needed health services. In addition, policy recommendations will be discussed to eliminate the barriers that former inmates face when they return home.

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the impact of inadequate prison health care and the barriers to health care for those that reenter on the health of their communities and families. 2. Learn about strategies developed at the community level to provide health services to those that reenter their communities. 3. List policy recommendations to address the collateral consequences of incarceration.

Keywords: Incarceration, Underserved Populations

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.