Effectively administering health care programs is a critical element of sound fiscal management for state and local governments. As health care and corrections have emerged in recent years as fiscal pressure points, so, too, has the intersection of these two spheres—health care for inmates. The manner in which states and localities manage prison and jail health care services affects taxpayers’ total corrections bill, as well as inmates’ well-being and the public’s health and safety. Pew conducts research on state and local correctional health care spending and performance to help policymakers access the information they need to make data-driven policy decisions.
Inmates, when compared with the general population, have more extensive health needs, including chronic and infectious diseases, substance use disorders, and mental illnesses. States and localities make significant investments in care for these individuals. Policymakers need good information to assess their correctional systems’ performance and to ensure that they are achieving the desired health outcomes at sustainable costs. Preserving these investments also requires coordinating the care of inmates as they transition between correctional facilities and their communities.
Pew’s research examines correctional health care spending and performance through comprehensive 50-state assessments and other analyses. We seek to help states and localities better understand how they can maintain high-performing systems by effectively tracking and monitoring costs, measuring and improving the quality of care delivered, and facilitating well-coordinated health care transitions for inmates as they enter and depart the correctional system.