Promoting Health Equity in Communities Affected by Mass Incarceration

Standard models of health care delivery do not serve all populations equally, and the reentry population has suffered poor health outcomes from systems that fail to address their unique medical and social needs.

One strategy for reducing barriers to care is to employ specially trained community members with lived experience of incarceration to serve in the role of community health worker (CHW), the model utilized by Transitions Clinic Network (TCN). Despite evidence that employing CHWs with lived experience of incarceration to serve individuals reentering their communities leads to better patient outcomes, significant legal barriers impede hiring within health systems.

Our new policy brief, co-authored by the Network for Public Health Law,Promoting Health Equity in Communities Affected by Mass Incarceration: Addressing Legal Obstacles to Hiring Formerly Incarcerated Individuals as Community Health Workers”, identifies legal barriers as well as strategies that have been proposed or implemented to facilitate employment of people with conviction histories as CHWs.

Every year in the US, more than 650,000 people are released from prison and 9 million more return to their communities from jail. Upon return, they are some of the sickest and most vulnerable members of society.

We developed this brief to guide policymakers and health care providers to address barriers to hiring and caring for returning community members.

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