The Health Status of Soon-to-Be-Released Inmates: A Report to Congress


This national, three-year-long study was the largest and most comprehensive of its kind ever undertaken. With funding from Congress through the National Institute of Justice, and with substantial support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Commission on Correctional Health Care convened expert panels that included the nation’s most respected researchers, practitioners and scholars in the fields of public and correctional health care. The final report was delivered to Congress by the National Institute of Justice in May 2002.

Prisons and jails offer a unique opportunity to establish better disease control in the community by providing improved health care and disease prevention to inmates before they are released. A series of papers (summarized in Volume 1 and provided in full in Volume 2) documents indisputably that tens of thousands of inmates are being released into the community every year with undiagnosed or untreated communicable disease, chronic disease and mental illness. The research also shows that not only would it be cost effective to treat several of these diseases while the individuals are incarcerated, but in several instances it would even save money in the long run.

There are serious political, logistical and financial barriers to improving health services in prisons and jails. Implementing the recommendations in this carefully researched report will go a long way toward taking advantage of this opportunity and contribute significantly to improving the health of inmates and the larger community.

Volume 1 (PDF)
Volume 2 (PDF)