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Chronic Medical Conditions in Criminal Justice Involved Populations

Author: AMY J. HARZKE and SANDI L. PRUITT
Published in JHHSA, Vol. 41 No. 3

Nationally representative data collected by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) have shown increasing and elevated prevalence of a number of non-infectious chronic medical conditions in criminal justice populations relative to the non-institutionalized population. Prevalence of these conditions, including hypertension and arthritis, are especially high among elderly and female prisoners and jail inmates. State- and site- specific prevalence estimates, however, have revealed patterns that are somewhat inconsistent with BJS national data. We summarize the extant literature regarding prevalence of chronic medical conditions in U.S. prison and jail settings, determinants of these conditions across the phases of criminal justice involvement, and potential opportunities for reducing and managing the burden of chronic medical conditions in criminal justice populations. We provide research and policy recommendations for improving measurement of the burden of chronic medical conditions in criminal justice populations, provision of healthcare in correctional settings, and post-release continuity of care and community reentry.

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