The United States has over 6.5 million adults involved in the criminal justice system, with significant over-representation of non-white racial and ethnic minority groups. Even brief exposure to the criminal justice system can have lasting effects on not just the individual, but families and entire communities. It can disqualify people from housing and employment opportunities, exacerbate mental and behavioral health conditions, and put people at increased risk for chronic illness.
As part of the Center for Health Equity Research and Department of Social Medicine at the UNC School of Medicine, it is the mission of the UNC Re-Envisioning Health and Justice Lab to shine a light on how mass incarceration drives inequality in the US and impacts the social determinants of health at the individual and community levels. Our work draws on the expertise of justice-involved persons, corrections staff, and community stakeholders to inform innovative research that aims to eliminate health disparities, understand and address the social determinants of health of justice-involved persons, and contribute to policy change in the areas of criminal justice reform and mass incarceration.