264847 Treatment Alternatives Compared to Incarceration for Non-violent Offenders: A health impact assessment

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM

David Liners, Community Organizer , WISDOM, Milwaukee, WI
Incarceration in Wisconsin has grown at an alarming rate. Most of those incarcerated are non-violent offenders suffering from substance abuse or mental health issues. In 2011, WISDOM, a statewide congregation-based community organizing project and member of the nationwide Gamaliel organization, secured funding to conduct a “Treatment Instead of Prisons health impact assessment” (HIA) to test the effectiveness of incarceration to address addiction and mental illness as compared with treatment alternatives. In 2006, Wisconsin established a $1.5 million/year fund for counties to provide treatment alternatives to prison. The HIA hypothesized that shifting funding from state prisons to treatment programs for many with substance abuse and mental health issues would result in safer, healthier, and more humane communities. The HIA assessed the impact of expanding funding to $75 million/year on recovery rates, recidivism, social capital, and other health outcomes. Preliminary results include: increased recovery rates, decreased recidivism, increased social capital and improved health outcomes for those diverted from incarceration to community-based treatment. The results are expected to have an influence in this decision and will inform future policy discussions. The HIA represents a key component of WISDOM's criminal justice organizing campaign. The presentation will discuss successes, challenges and lessons of the process of implementing an HIA on funding for alternatives to incarceration and the implications of its use in long-term advocacy strategies of community organizers. HIA can be an effective vehicle for framing public discussions on criminal justice policy and is a promising starting point for WISDOM's and Gamaliel's Healthy Heartland campaign.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe a process for utilizing HIA as a key component of a campaign to reform the criminal justice system. Demonstrate the efficacy of HIA in lifting up the public health and community benefits of best practices in alternatives to incarceration.

Keywords: Criminal Justice, Substance Abuse Treatment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have 15 years of experience leading a large congregation-based community organizing project, am part of the national training staff of the Gamaliel Foundation. I teach Community Organizing at the university of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. I have led broad-based movements for criminal justice reform and for adoption of alternatives to incarceration in several Wisconsin counties and in a previous, successful statewide campaign.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

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.