The Mailman School Initiative on Incarceration and Public Health supports a interdisciplinary network of scholars and teachers from across the school who are examining the issue of mass incarceration through a public health lens, while working to identify opportunities within the criminal justice and health systems to improve the wellbeing of individuals and communities most adversely affected. The initiative is unique among schools of public health. It includes research support for scholarship in the area of incarceration prevention, new courses to integrate incarceration issues into the public health curriculum, a seminar series that brings outside experts to present their work to students and faculty, and meetings with local policymakers and practitioners, is unique among schools of public health.

The goal of the Mailman School of Public Health’s Initiative on Incarceration and Public Health is to cast a “public health lens” on the issue of mass incarceration. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) identifies three elements to the public health:

  • A focus on prevention
  • A focus on scientific methodology to identify risk and protective factors
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration to address the issue

The public health approach to social problems has produced successes in reduction of tobacco use, unintentional poisoning, and motor vehicle fatalities.It has similar potential to reduce the harms associated with incarceration. Public Health has historically placed a high priority on the mitigation of social inequality and health disparities, and the racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic disparities that characterize contemporary criminal and juvenile justice, whether directly caused by the criminal justice system or reflected therein, demand attention from a field with the tools and mission to identify, measure, and reduce inequality.

Read more about Incarceration Prevention