Leading Criminal Justice Organization JustLeadershipUSA Announces the Release of a Groundbreaking Health Equity Report, Unveiling Healthcare Disparities Inside the Criminal Legal System

April 9, 2024

Policy experts and advocates are shining a light on the urgent need to provide healthcare relief and aid to formerly and currently incarcerated individuals

New York, New York (April, 9th 2024) – The JustUS Coordinating Council (JCC) powered by award-winning criminal justice reform organization, JustLeadershipUSA (JLUSA) is leading the fight to bring relief and reform to system-impacted communities across the U.S. In a groundbreaking health equity report, the JCC provides key findings on the inequities and disparities affecting system-impacted individuals, along with recommendations for policy leaders, government groups, and stakeholders that will ultimately improve the conditions of confinement and lead to safer, healthier communities post-release. You can view the full report HERE.

Neglecting the healthcare needs of incarcerated individuals not only perpetuates cycles of illness and suffering but also undermines broader efforts to promote public health and safety. By addressing the root causes of health disparities within prisons the JCC believes that we can build healthier and more resilient communities. Some key findings highlighted in the report include:

  • In the period following release from jail or prison, individuals that were formerly incarcerated are 12 times more likely to die compared to others.
  • A study in North Carolina found that within two weeks following release, formerly incarcerated individuals were 40 times more likely to die of an opioid overdose than someone in the general population.
  • An estimated 80 percent of those returning from incarceration grapple with chronic medical, psychiatric, or substance use disorders.

Key recommendations that the JustUS Coordinating Council includes in the report are:

  • Congress must take immediate action on legislation such as the Humane Correctional Control Act and amend Medicaid by striking and repealing the “Medicaid Inmate Exclusion Policy” and the “Institutions of Mental Disease Exclusion” clauses.
  • The Department of Justice should issue federal guidance on the duty to engage in discharge planning as part of the constitutional rights of incarcerated people and best practices for engaging in discharge planning to ensure continuity of care for people returning home from prison.
  • Congress should amend the The Prison Litigation Reform Act (PLRA) (28 U.S.C 191(b)) by striking the physical injury requirement, the administrative relief, and filing fee clauses.
  • The Sentencing Commission should take a leadership role in ensuring that new “compassionate release” guidelines are implemented.
  • Establishing an Ombudsman office to receive anonymous complaints from individuals incarcerated and their support systems. The office should sit within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services with linkages to the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General.
  • The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) should elevate examples from other states on implementation and emerging model frameworks for states who are in the pre-application phase of the Reentry Medicaid 1115 waiver.

“As we continue our efforts to promote health equity in correctional facilities and in impacted communities, we’re calling upon policymakers, stakeholders, and the broader community to join us in this vital fight to save lives and transform communities,”
said DeAnna Hoskins, JLUSA President/CEO and Founder of the JustUS Coordinating Council. “With millions of Americans being impacted by our nation’s criminal legal system, our responsibility should be to create safe, healthy, and dignified conditions for those in prison and jails—as well as those coming home after a period of incarceration—to get the rehabilitation and support they need.”

The JustUS Coordinating Council believes that promoting health equity in prisons is essential for upholding the principles of justice and fairness. Access to quality healthcare is a fundamental human right that should be extended to all individuals, regardless of their circumstances. Some key collaborators and supporters of Building the Table: A Right to Quality and Continuous Health Care for People Incarcerated and Returning from Incarceration include the Health and Reentry Project (HARP) and The Intersect.


About JustLeadershipUSA:
JustLeadershipUSA is one of the nation’s largest criminal justice organizations that is both founded by and led by formerly incarcerated people. As such, we are the go-to resource for the justice-impacted community on issues related to criminal justice reform in America. Our mission is to educate, elevate, and empower those directly impacted by the criminal legal system so they can be active change agents in dismantling the racist and oppressive systems that continue to marginalize them and their communities. For more information, please visit jlusa.org or follow us on Twitter/X, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. #HealthJustUS