New study calls for better health care services, monitoring for inmates

The study says better monitoring and quality of health services can help fight recidivism, prevent wasteful spending, and improve overall public health and safety

BY CorrectionsOneStaff

WASHINGTON — A nationwide study released Wednesday by The Pew Charitable Trusts calls for better monitoring and quality of American prison and post-prison health care services for the hundreds of thousands of inmates who are incarcerated and released each year.

The study found dramatic variation in the amount of money states spent per inmate on correctional health care in the 2015 fiscal year. Louisiana spent the least on health care at $2,173 per inmate while California spent the most at $19,796.

The study added that increased health services for inmates after they have been released can help prevent the “revolving door from jail, to the streets, and back to jail” and improve overall public health and safety. It also noted that many formerly incarcerated individuals have more serious health concerns than the general population.

The report, which was based on data collected from two surveys in 2015 and 2016 along with interviews with more than 75 state officials, found that state DOCs spent $8.1 billion on prison health care — which represented about a fifth of overall state prison expenditures.

“Well-run, forward-thinking prison health care systems are vital to state aims of providing care to incarcerated individuals, protecting communities, strengthening public health, and spending money wisely,” the study said.

Read the full report here.

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