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.

Carl C. Bell, MD, CCHP

Carl Bell

For leadership, support and advocacy in advancing the field of correctional health care

A trailblazer, a visionary, an activist … determined, outspoken, unconventional … a colleague once said about Carl Bell, “He excels at changing the way people think.”

Dr. Bell is a distinguished psychiatrist, violence-prevention crusader and one of the nation’s preeminent experts on the impact of violence on children in disadvantaged communities.

His involvement with NCCHC dates back to the organization’s beginnings. He was a founding board member and served for 33 years as the National Medical Association liaison, providing unique expertise on the relationship between poverty, violence, mental health, race and incarceration. He calls his work with NCCHC “the best real public health work I have ever done.”

During his tenure, Dr. Bell served as board chairman twice; chaired the accreditation committee for more than a decade; and worked on the jail, prison and mental health standards. He also advocated for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to broaden its mission to include correctional health – a significant turning point for the field.

In a career spanning nearly 50 years, he has authored more than 500 articles, chapters and books, including textbook chapters on correctional psychology. He has consulted for numerous departments of corrections, universities, and local, state and federal government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Justice, the National Institute of Mental Health and the U.S. Surgeon General. He has lectured all over the world and been interviewed by news outlets too numerous to list.

In 1987, Dr. Bell founded the Community Mental Health Council on Chicago’s South Side, one of the largest community mental health clinics in the country. For 25 years it provided comprehensive services to thousands of mostly low-income patients.

He is now a staff psychiatrist at Jackson Park Hospital Family Medical Center and Clinical Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine. His recent research focuses on prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder in low-income communities.

NCCHC conference attendees have enjoyed the tai-chi classes Dr. Bell taught for many years, as well as his collection of hats.