Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice

Robina Institute and Partners Awarded UMN Grand Challenges!

Driving Tomorrow
University of Minnesota Grand Challenges

The Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice is pleased to announce that we are included in an interdisciplinary team award for the University of Minnesota's Driving Tomorrow Grand Challenges research. The Robina Institute will be working with faculty and staff from Medicine, Sociology, and Pediatrics on "Identifying and Addressing Disparities in the Criminal Justice and Health Care Systems," under the Grand Challenges focus area of "Fostering Just and Equitable Communities" The award is for $570,000 and will support this project for two years.

Executive Vice President and Provost Karen Hanson announced the second phase of UMN Driving Tomorrow research investments for interdisciplinary collaborations aligned with goals of the campus strategic plan today.

The internal research investments will engage faculty across the campus in new or expanded work to address complex issues related to Assuring Clean Water and Sustainable Ecosystems and Fostering Just and Equitable Communities (or an integration of the two). These are among the University’s five Grand Challenges focus areas previously identified by the Research Grand Challenges faculty committee.

Interdisciplinary team awards, totaling $2.96 million in support over two years, have been awarded to six interdisciplinary projects encompassing more than 120 faculty and external partners. In addition, 12 faculty have been named Grand Challenges Research Scholars; they will be part of two collaboratives undertaking extended interdisciplinary engagement in academic year 2018–19.

The Project

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.

Co-Principle Investigators include: Assistant Professor Tyler Winkelman, MD, MSc, Clinician-Investigator, HCMC/MMRF, Department of Medicine; Professor Kevin Reitz, JD, Co-Director, Robina Institute of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice, Law School; Assistant Professor Rebecca Shlafer, PhD, MPH, Department of Pediatrics; and Assistant Professor Michelle Phelps, PhD, Department of Sociology.

Research and Staff Include:

  • Kelly Mitchell, JD​, MPP, ​Executive Director, Robina Institute, University of Minnesota 
  • Ebony Ruhland, PhD, ​Assistant Professor, University of Cincinnati - Christopher Uggen, PhD, ​Regents Professor, University of Minnesota - 
  • Peter Bodurtha, MPP, ​Principal Planning Analyst, Hennepin County Center of Innovation and Excellence 
  • Erik Erickson, PhD, ​Analytics Manager for Integrated Planning and Analysis, Hennepin County Humans Services and Public Health Department - 
  • Danette Buskovick, MSW, ​Policy, Planning, and Evaluation Manager, Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation 
  • Stephanie Abel​, Manager, Integrated Care, Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health 
  • Shira Shavit, MD, ​Founder and Executive Director, Transitions Clinic Network, San Francisco 
  • Kathie Doty​, Hennepin-University Partnership, University of Minnesota 
  • Ron Solheid​, Minnesota Department of Corrections - 
  • Latasha Jennings, MPH​, Research Assistant, Minnesota Medical Research Foundation 
  • Robina Institute Staff

Read more about how the University of Minnesota is Driving Tomorrow