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Abuse of Incarcerated People Position Statement Updated



Correctional health professionals have a fundamental duty to the clinical care, physical safety, and psychological wellness of their patients.

NCCHC has revised its position statement on Correctional Health Professionals’ Response to Abuse of Incarcerated People to guide correctional health professionals should they witness or become aware of an incarcerated individual being subjected to neglect, abuse, or mistreatment. That includes physical or mental abuse, sexual abuse, torture, neglect, disrespect, financial exploitation, and other harmful actions.

Despite the increasing professionalism and improved safety in our nation’s prisons, jails, and youth confinement facilities, mistreatment of incarcerated people does occur. This position statement addresses the dilemma of a health professional who is asked to participate, even indirectly, in mistreatment of an incarcerated person or witnesses such mistreatment or mental health consequences.

First adopted in 2007, this position statement is as important as ever. The latest version uses contemporary language and streamlines the discussion, but stays laser focused on the essential points: correctional health professionals must identify and report incidents of mistreatment to the appropriate authority, and they are NOT to:

  • Participate in or condone any form of mistreatment of incarcerated people
  • Participate in, directly or indirectly, efforts to certify individuals as medically or psychologically fit to be subjected to abusive treatment
  • Participate in interrogations, assist in preparing for interrogations, or advise on the use of techniques of interrogation
  • Gather health information for forensic purposes or share confidential health information or its interpretation to authorities for use in cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment
  • Authorize or approve any physical punishment of incarcerated people or allow oneself or one’s role to be used as an instrument to weaken their physical or mental resistance

You can read the statement in its entirety, or view all NCCHC position statements.

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