Identifying and Addressing Disparities in the Criminal Justice and Health Care Systems
While considerable attention has focused on the causes and consequences of mass incarceration, the majority of the criminal justice population is supervised through community supervision, particularly probation. Minnesota is a leading exemplar of this pattern; while Minnesota has the sixth lowest incarceration rate in the nation, our community supervision rate is the seventh highest. Probation and supervised release violations represent a large share of prison admissions, are a key driver of Minnesota’s rising incarceration rate in recent years, and disproportionately impact people from racial and ethnic minority groups.
Individuals involved in the justice system are known to have high rates of chronic disease, mental illness, and substance use disorders. Despite the considerable health risks of those with criminal justice contact, how community-based criminal justice contact intersects with broader health disparities in our communities has been largely ignored. Our study, “Identifying and Addressing Disparities in the Criminal Justice and Health Care Systems,” aims to use Hennepin County as a strategic case study to better understand these relationships between community supervision, health, and well-being. We will use a mixed-methods approach to understand the health and health care patterns of community supervisees, the impact of individuals’ well-being on completing community supervision requirements, and the impact of health and criminal justice disparities on communities of color in Minnesota. Our interdisciplinary team comprises researchers from law, medicine, psychology, and sociology; government officials; and community partners. Our work will result in evidence-based policy and programmatic recommendations to help communities achieve lasting changes in health and supervision practices that are more just and equitable.