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Why Access to Equitable Healthcare Helps to Reduce Recidivism

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

Recently, our team at Flikshop attended the DC AWS: Imagine conference here in our own home turf in Southeast Washington, DC. Addressing non-profit leaders from across the country, our CEO and Founder, Marcus Bullock, spoke on our mission at Flikshop and the impact our Flikshop Angels have on families committed to remaining connected to their lovuring seasons of incarceration.

After Marcus’ delivery, Chelsea Clinton came to the stage. A public health leader, Chelsea has been a vocal supporter and advocate for access to health care for underserved communities, including women and children, and people living with HIV and AIDS, and incarcerated populations. In fact, in her message that day at the Imagine conference, Chelsea mentioned the severe lack of health care (both physical and mental health) available to incarcerated individuals despite this population being the only one possessing the constitutional right to adequate medical care.

This acknowledgement was appreciated by our team as Flikshop cares deeply about the

health and wellness of incarcerated communities and their families. Those with lived experience on our team knew how true these words rang, because we had faced this absence of healthcare in our own carceral experiences.

Healthcare access and its impact on reducing recidivism has become a major topic of discussion in recent years. With the increasing recognition of the importance of healthcare access in improving outcomes for those who are incarcerated, many organizations are now working to ensure that all individuals have access to quality healthcare services. This is not only important for improving overall health and well-being, but also for reducing the likelihood of reoffending and improving public safety.

The International Committee of the Red Cross stated this in its memo on ‘Health and Human Rights in Prison’, “Public health policies are meant to ensure the best possible conditions for

all members of society, so that everyone can be healthy. [Incarcerated individuals] are often forgotten in this equation. They cannot fend for themselves in their situation of detention, and it is the responsibility of the State to provide for health services and a healthy environment… Human rights instruments call for [incarcerated people] to receive health care at least equivalent to that available for the outside population.”

In many cases, those who are incarcerated have a high rate of chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and mental health issues. These conditions often go untreated due to lack of access to healthcare services and can contribute to the likelihood of reoffending. Providing access to healthcare can help to manage these conditions, improve overall health and well-being, and reduce the risk of reoffending.

In its report “Chronic Punishment” the Prison Policy Initiative states, “While an incarcerated individual’s health issues may begin before arrest, incarceration often exacerbates problems or creates new ones. Being locked up in and of itself causes lasting damage to one’s health and to loved ones’ health, including children born to justice-involved parents. People in prison have a constitutional right to basic healthcare, but that care tends to be reactionary, designed to treat acute health care problems rather than to prevent or effectively treat chronic disease.”

Access to healthcare can also help to improve the reentry process for those who are released

from incarceration. The transition from prison to the community can be a challenging one, and access to healthcare services can play a critical role in ensuring that individuals have the support they need to successfully reintegrate back into society.

SARC Foundation for Health, Equity and Justice recently published Reducing Recidivism: The Role of Healthcare in Re-Entry. It states: “Providing mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and primary care services can help to improve the health of those re-entering society, which makes it easier to live a good life and not turn to criminal activity. Better health also leads to more chances of getting a job and making money, which can help reduce the risk of re-offending by providing people with other ways to make money.”

In conclusion, healthcare access plays a critical role in reducing recidivism. By providing individuals with access to quality healthcare services, organizations can help to improve overall health and well-being, manage chronic medical conditions, and reduce the risk of reoffending. Like Chelsea Clinton instilled in her talk last week, it is essential that we continue to invest in and support organizations that are working to improve healthcare access for all individuals, including those who are incarcerated. At Flikshop, we remain committed to fighting recidivism in every way we can, and will continue to advocate for policy and systemic change that will give every loved one returning home a fighting chance.


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