Congressional Briefing - June 21, 2012

Prisoner Reentry and Public Health: Is Your State Ready?

man getting blood drawn


Lois M. Davis, Senior Policy Researcher, RAND Corporation


Thursday, June 21, 2012


1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.


121 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C.


About the Program

From California to New York, Texas to Michigan, a record number of convicted criminals, roughly 700,000 each year, are reentering the general population. Is your district or state prepared for prisoner reentry?

Research has found that the prison population is disproportionately sicker, on average, than the U.S. population in general, with substantially higher burdens of infectious diseases (such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and hepatitis B and C) and serious mental illness. When prisoners are released and return to communities, an often-overlooked concern is the health care needs that former prisoners have and the role that health care plays in how successfully they reintegrate. To a large extent, the reentry population will eventually become part of the uninsured and medically indigent populations in communities across the nation, leading to important considerations for government prisoner reentry and healthcare programs.

This briefing focuses on

  • how health affects reentry into a community;
  • the critical roles that health care providers, other social services, and family members play in successful reentry;
  • recommendations for improving access to care for this population in the current fiscal environment.

Lois Davis will present evidence from California on the health care needs of newly released prisoners. This study was conducted in the context of budget cuts that have substantially shrunk California's safety net and the May 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering California to reduce its prison population by 33,000.

About the Speaker

Lois M. Davis is a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation and a professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. Davis's recent policy research has focused on the intersection of public safety and public health. She recently completed a study for The California Endowment Foundation on the public health implications of prisoner reentry in California. She currently is leading a comprehensive assessment of correctional education in the United States for incarcerated adults and juveniles, and a National Institute of Justice-funded study on the fiscal impact of prison closings. She recently led a commissioned study to examine disparities faced by African-American and Latino boys and men in California across specific socioeconomic, health, safety, and school readiness indicators. Past research includes the impact of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on U.S. police forces' counterterrorism and homeland security capabilities, the use of radio-frequency identification (RFID) technology in correctional facilities, and the health status of returning prisoners. Davis received her Ph.D. in public health from the University of California, Los Angeles.

About RAND

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND focuses on the issues that matter most, such as health, education, national security, international affairs, law and business, the environment, and more. As a nonpartisan organization, RAND operates independent of political and commercial pressures. We serve the public interest by helping lawmakers reach informed decisions on the nation's pressing challenges. Visit us online at

Further Inquiries

For further information about this event, contact Laura Selway at or call (703) 413-1100, ext. 5423.