Health Promotion in Jails and Prisons: An Alternative Paradigm for Correctional Health Services

  • Megha Ramaswamy
  • Nicholas Freudenberg

According to the World Health Organization, health promotion describes the “process of enabling people to increase control over and to improve their health.” Health promotion seeks to bring about changes in individuals, groups, institutions, and policies in order to improve population health. The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, adopted by the WHO in 1986, identifies five critical activities for health promotion: developing personal skills for health, creating supportive environments, strengthening community action for health, reorienting health services, and building healthy public policy (Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, World Health Organization, 1986). At first sight, this expansive conception of health promotion seems too idealistic to serve as a useful guide for the consideration of its role in prisons and jails. However, in this chapter, we make the case that a comprehensive definition of health promotion can serve as a useful paradigm that links correctional health care to the larger public health system, expands the focus of correctional health services from medical care during custody to preparation for healthy living after release, and provides a rationale for expanding the goals of incarceration to include not only punishment but also rehabilitation. In this chapter, we consider health promotion as both a set of activities within the five categories identified by the World Health Organization and as a mindset that views CHS as an integral element of public health that is judged by its contribution to improved population health. We distinguish this perspective from the more traditional view that CHS simply provide care that meets minimal legal standards to those in custody.


Health Promotion Criminal Justice Chronic Disease Management Urban Health Correctional System 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megha Ramaswamy
    • 1
  • Nicholas Freudenberg
    • 2
  1. 1.Urban Public Health at Hunter College, CUNYNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Hunter CollegeCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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