Mailman School of Public Health's Incarceration and Public Health Initiative

Developing new approaches to public safety and criminal justice based on public health science and practice
    • April 6, 2015

Dates of Project: January 2014 through June 2014

Description: During the past 35 years, incarceration rates in the United States have exhibited all of the earmarks of an epidemic, according to Ernest Drucker, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

The Incarceration and Public Health Initiative was created to develop new approaches to public safety and criminal justice based on public health science and practice. During the grant period, faculty members involved in the project created educational opportunities for students and scholars, developed partnerships with other organizations, and also promoted the organization’s work.

Key Results

The faculty members involved in the Incarceration and Public Health Initiative:

  • Created graduate-student practicums focused on criminal justice issues. For example, three graduate students completed a semester-long group practicum at Getting Out and Staying Out, a re-entry program for youth exiting Rikers Island prison in New York City.

  • Organized practicums for scholars, including three site visits to organizations that provide services and resources to address a variety of social issues.

  • Helped students rejuvenate a group formed in 2011, the Association for Public Health Action in Criminal Justice, which students and faculty had formed earlier to promote critical analysis of the criminal justice system from a public health perspective.

  • Created a website to house information about the Incarceration and Public Health Initiative, including background about mass imprisonment, details about the initiative and faculty scholars, events, videos of presentations, research and findings, student activities, partnerships, and other resources.

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Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health focuses a public health lens on the issue of mass incarceration