Over 6 million people in the US are incarcerated annually and 12 million cycle through American jails annually. At this rate, the lifetime incarceration rate is expected to be 1 in 15, with the rate for minorities even higher (as high as 1 in 3 for blacks). Emerging evidence suggests strong associations among incarceration, poor health and high health care costs.
Provision of health care to persons in prisons, jails, halfway houses and juvenile detention facilities is legally mandated by Federal and State laws. Providing effective health care within correctional systems that meets the legal threshold, at the minimum cost to the taxpayer and maximum possible benefit, is desirable. Research is needed to test strategies and measure outcomes, with translation into more effective clinical practices.
Health care, as delivered in correctional settings, is influenced by the fields of law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, dental medicine, human rights, social work, psychiatry, public health, computer science, engineering, kinesiology, economics, and nutritional science. Research collaboration between these fields is improving in general, but remains challenging within correctional environments. The Center for Correctional Health Networks (CCHNet) will be the first national (and potentially global) center to focus solely on correctional health and to conduct this from an inter-professional and practice-based network approach.
The mission of the Center is to support network members who will study and test health care innovations and quality improvement strategies in real world practice settings to determine effectiveness, efficiency and equity of outcomes upon persons with incarceration experiences.