Following a needs assessment study conducted by faculty member Dr. Alexandra Hernandez and extensive planning led by Public Health Program director Dr. Gayle Cummings, Touro University – California Public Health Program has launched a concentration on Health Equity and Criminal Justice (HECJ). The new concentration focuses on the intersection of health and the U.S. justice system. Framed within core public health concepts, the HECJ Concentration addresses the impacts of criminal justice involvement and incarceration on individuals, families and communities and students are provided with a specialized curriculum centered on the criminal justice system, reentry and recidivism, and social and community impacts of incarceration.
The concentration will contribute to the expansion of research and policy in the promotion of social justice and health equity. Graduates will be well-prepared to advocate for and address the needs of justice system involved populations. MPH students with clinical training will gain knowledge and skills needed for practitioners to provide medical care for incarcerated and post-release populations.
Field study sites – at either a California correctional facility or with community-based organizations serving people with a history of incarceration, their families, and communities – include San Quentin California State Prison, La Clinica de La Raza Transitions Clinic, Health Education Council Clinic, Centerforce, Solano County Jail Services, and Roots Community Health.
The pilot program was held in the spring semester of 2019. Student, Ms. Angela Tremaine commented that “The Health Equity & Criminal Justice Public Health courses will open your eyes. ….I found it easy to see how each facet was closely linked with public health. The professors foster a safe environment for discussion and learning. The guest lecturers were absolutely outstanding. I hope to use what I learned to increase advocacy among my fellow students and colleagues, support policy change, and develop intervention programs. “
Dr. Cummings and Dr. Hernandez along with concentration chair Ms. Nemesia Kelly, faculty member Dr. Elena Linga and MPH alumnus Mr. Matthew Green, presented their research on the development of the concentration and early findings most recently in Scotland at the 5th International Conference on Law Enforcement and Public Health.
Touro University – California Public Health Program is the first graduate program accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) to offer an MPH concentration in health equity and criminal justice.