Bernard P. Harrison Award of Merit


NCCHC’s highest honor, this award is presented to an individual or group that has demonstrated excellence and service that has advanced the correctional health care field, either through an individual project or a history of service. The award is named after NCCHC’s cofounder and first president.

Michelle Staples-Horne

Michelle Staples-Horne, MD, MPH, CCHP

For leadership and advocacy in serving the health care needs of youth in custody

For nearly 25 years, Michelle Staples-Horne has been a national leader in public health and clinical care for vulnerable juvenile offenders involved in the correctional system. As medical director for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice, she has consistently advocated for young people in the system and enhanced the care provided to them. She led Georgia’s juvenile health system from almost nonexistence to recognition as a leader in health care among juvenile corrections agencies.

In 1993, Dr. Staples-Horne was hired as the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice’s first medical director, charged with developing a health care program for more than 1,200 young people in 28 secure facilities as well as more than 15,000 youth in the community, many of them with no or inconsistent health or dental care prior to detainment.

As Dr. Staples-Horne says, “At that time, there were no medical policies, procedures, protocols or quality assurance standards and limited staff at a few secure facilities.” There was no on-site medical staff, dental care or behavioral health services, and very limited nursing services were available at only four facilities.

From that, she created a national model of quality care with policies and protocols based on standards from NCCHC and other organizations. Health services include nursing care, pharmacy services, annual health screenings and assessments, dental services, immunizations, daily sick call, ongoing care for chronic conditions, nutritional services and health education. Within two hours of admission, all youth are screened for medical and mental health issues, traumatic experience, substance abuse and suicide risk, with a goal of identifying at-risk youth as early as possible and providing the care required.

She has provided training and consultation to the U.S. Department of Justice, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute of Corrections and more. Her published works include several book chapters and articles in The Lancet, the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the Journal of Adolescent Health and more. She was also the focus of a CNN article on correctional physicians.

She has been a staunch supporter of NCCHC. She is a longtime member of the Juvenile Health Committee, and has served on the juvenile standards task force. She has presented at NCCHC conferences and participated in training webinars.

Dr. Staples-Horne is a past president of the American College of Correctional Physicians and in 2013 was awarded the Armond Start Award of Excellence, the organization’s highest honor. She also received the Health and Human Services Award for Innovations in Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

She earned her medical degree from Morehouse School of Medicine and her master’s in public health from Emory University.

DJJ Commissioner Avery Niles said of Dr. Staples-Horne, “She has helped develop a unified voice in the field of clinical care for juvenile offender patient populations.” In January, she retired from her position as medical director. NCCHC congratulates her on her illustrious career and her retirement.