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Conference Recap: 2019 Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health

Advancements in Correctional Health Research 

In early spring, I had the opportunity to attend and present at the 12th Academic & Health Policy Conference on Correctional Healthcare by the Academic Consortium on Criminal Justice Health (ACCJH) in Las Vegas, Nevada. This year’s conference provided an interesting cross section of speakers and topics.

Some of the main themes discussed included addressing disparities between public systems, mental health issues, incarcerated veterans issues, improving patient outcomes, understanding the role of trauma, issues surrounding older inmates and compassionate release, and the need to gather more data. A few sessions also focused on the gathering and analysis of national surveys for correctional health.

Two notable studies “Addressing Disparities in the Criminal Justice and Healthcare Systems Using an Interdisciplinary Approach,” Tyler Winkelman, MD, et al. (USA) and “Improving Outcomes for Incarcerated Pregnant and Parenting Women: Lessons Learned from Our Interdisciplinary Collaborations,” Rebecca Shlafer, Ph.D., et al. (USA) were completed by an interdisciplinary group in Hennepin County, Minnesota. This group looked at the disparities within the Healthcare and Criminal Justice system using data from multiple public service agencies. They also analyzed how to improve outcomes for pregnant inmates as well as ways to help them stay connected with their children. These studies went a long way in identifying where there are gaps in the systems, in addition to collecting more thorough data sets that provide a clearer picture of what is happening to incarcerated individuals and their families.

Other studies presented “Compassionate Release for Older Adults and Persons with Terminal Illness: A Content Analysis of Current Policies,” Margaret Holland, et al. (USA) and “Prevalence of Violent Victimization among Older Incarcerated Men,” Meghan Novisky, Ph.D. (USA) addressed the needs of older inmates. The first study looked at compassionate release and inmates with terminal illness. This study specifically looked at the need for national guidelines and standards, as well as lowering age requirements, additional eligible diagnoses, and the removal of procrastination criteria. The second study looked at victimization and violence against older inmates. This study in particular was looking at the prevalence rates of such actions in order to identify and develop processes to limit such outcomes.

Overall, the conference was a great outlet for the sharing of ideas and new data sets for correctional health. Similar to my HDR Fellowship research, Providing Healthcare in the Prison Environment, this conference not only promoted current research on many subjects affecting those who are incarcerated, but also highlighted gaps where more study is needed.