Skip to Main Content

Support Research and Improving Care for Individuals Leaving Prison

Over 2M Americans, mostly minority, are currently in correctional custody, and tens of millions more are formerly incarcerated. Mass incarceration is a major driver of poor health outcomes for individuals, a significant factor in family instability, poverty, and homelessness; and leads to civic disengagement and social isolation in communities. A national bipartisan focus on criminal justice reform creates the opportunity to study how to prevent the health-harming effects of mass incarceration and to translate this work into policies, practices and the law. This partnership between the Law School, School of Medicine, and the YCCI will focus on wide-scale community transformation by studying the interconnections between the criminal justice system and health equity and identifying legal, policy, and practice levers, which can improve the health of individuals, families, and communities impacted.

Reform efforts largely ignore the power of the health system to reduce our nation’s reliance on incarceration and underestimate the power of the communities of formerly incarcerated individuals as agents of change. To that end, the value of new partnership lies in the core principles that undergird this work: that the health system must play a leading role in criminal justice reform and assets do exist in individuals and communities most impacted by incarceration. Engaging individuals with a history of incarceration as equal partners in all center activities will lead to wide scale transformation and bring an innovative approach to a critical issue, maximizing Yale University’s local and global impact. To achieve this, the group will build upon the infrastructure of a national network of 50+ Transitions Clinic Network (TCN) programs in the US (a primary care-based program co-founded by Dr. Wang), which provide primary care for thousands of individuals who have returned home from incarceration.

The ultimate goal will be to enable interdisciplinary teams including CTSA hubs, TCNs, and community health workers with personal histories of incarceration (embedded within primary care teams) to identify and support patients returning home from incarceration who are at risk for poor health outcomes. Another important component will be the training of students, residents, and fellows along with individuals with a history of incarceration. These scholars will be exposed to a curriculum including health impacts of mass incarceration; community based participatory research techniques; and provided research opportunities. Finally, the initiative will also further leverage the partnership with the Law School to advocate for laws, policies and practices to promote health for individuals and communities impacted by mass incarceration.

Leadership