Research shows that there are a disproportionate number of justice involved individuals suffering from chronic illness and/ or mental health and substance abuse disorders. We also know that a majority of the justice-involved individuals are young adults and unemployed or earn an income that is well below the federal poverty line leaving them without the ability to obtain health care. There is now an opportunity to enhance collaboration between the criminal justice/corrections and healthcare systems. Early estimates indicate a significant number of justice-involved individuals may be eligible for provisions under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), specifically; enrollment in Medicaid or the ability to purchase health care coverage through state health insurance exchanges. Because of the many health care expansion possibilities for this population we are witnessing an unprecedented opportunity to help connect the justice population to healthcare coverage and the associated healthcare services.

Federal, state and local criminal justice systems are poised to change the way they do business with the advent of the ACA. It is now possible for millions of low income, justice- involved individuals to obtain healthcare or insurance coverage for their physical and behavioral health needs. This far reaching system change will impact every decision point in the criminal justice system from arrest to individuals returning to the community upon release.

Presented on June 18, 2014, this program informed and increased awareness around this historic healthcare expansion opportunity. The broadcast highlighted promising practices by providing resources and strategies to expand healthcare coverage to justice-involved individuals. During this national discussion and broadcast by the National Institute of Corrections, presenters:

  • Established the relevance of the Affordable Care Act to the criminal justice system.
  • Provided concrete examples for collaboration and system linkages between the criminal justice system and healthcare system
  • Provided healthcare enrollment strategies to increase informed decision-making between criminal justice and healthcare stakeholders.