Incarceration has effects on many aspects of the prisoner’s life. This includes physical and mental illness. Long isolations with society contribute to decreasing stamina of health and misuse of drugs. Sim identified the factors of limited contact to the outer world, overcrowding, and scantiness of basic necessities of life to be highly affecting the prisoner’s life. Internal factors such as cell conditions, racism, de-motivation towards life and threatening behavior of inmates affect the health of a prisoner. External factors such as worrying about family and society increase the concerns of the prisoner. According to World Health Organization, steps should be taken to improve and facilitate the link between prisoners’ health and public health at the state and global level.
Discharge planning is a process of identification of pre and post-release needs of inmates. Correction departments or community-based organizations are mainly responsible for carrying out this act. It consists of dedicated dedicating staff which arranges the collaboration with state public health department to provide continuity of care and helps them in reintegrating in the community.
Adequate discharge planning is crucial as it signifies the time period immediately prior to and following a prisoner’s release from incarceration. Prisoner centric programs help in smoothing the transition stage and provide meaningful outcomes. In the US, almost 39 states have pre-release transitional programs with variation in type, content, and degree of efforts. But, many programs are developed without any research. Participation in such programs is lower than expected, and a little validity exists in efficiency and productivity of these programs. Due to these issues, many people find it difficult to become part of the community again.
Public health and prisoner’s healthcare are directly related as proposed by various studies. To quote Restum, “Left untreated inside the prison, inmates eventually leave…Back home, they risk infecting families, friends, and—if they engage in violent crime—complete strangers”. Thus, discharge planning by correctional systems in of due importance. In the US, correctional services utilize $3 billion for health care services of inmates but rarely provide any plan for the transitional stage from prison to home at the time of discharge.
Reentry Policy Council
Reentry Policy Council published a report in 2005 seeking attention towards primary, behavioral health care for discharged prisoners. The code of ethics of the American Medical Association established that it is the moral duty of physicians and nurses to provide continual care to the prisoner even after returning home. Every patient has the right to continuity of health care. The physician and nurses have a responsibility to cooperate in the coordination of medically indicated care with other health care providers treating the patient.