A group of advocates has set its sights on reforming Rhode Island’s criminal justice system through a variety of social services programs.
Doctors Scott Allen and Josiah “Jody” Rich collaborate together to promote health equity, human rights, and education for people within criminal justice system, according to the Providence Journal.
The Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights combines doctors with researchers, lawyers, and activists to bring consciousness into the criminal justice and public health fields.
“We asked the question, why do we lock them up? Why don’t we treat them?’ The rest of the world doesn’t lock people up for addiction. The message the criminal justice system sends you is `you’re less than,’” said Rich, an associate professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Warren Alpert Medical School.
The leaders of the center advocate in the State House and work with the state judiciary and the Department of Corrections. They are in search of the finest methods interweaving health and justice.
The center is currently referred to as the Center for Health and Justice Transformation at Lifespan, and is funded through donations and grants. The center held its initial fundraiser at Rhode Island School of Design.
The center has accomplished several milestones for its target audience. The fees and fines that have been waived by the center amount up to 2 and a half million dollars, for those who are unable to pay.
This includes 200 people such as state leaders, federal prosecutors and health professionals. These people have been trained through the center’s Reentry Simulation Program.
According to the news article, over seventy percent of clinic patients are unable to pay, and the same percentage applies to those patients diagnosed with an mental disorder.
There are 69% of patients who say they have a substance-use history, whereas 40% are homeless or unstably housed upon intake
The center’s partners in the Rhode Island Reentry Alliance are the Lifespan Transitions Clinic, Amos House, the Reentry Campus Program, Nonviolence Institute, Open Doors, Building Futures, and Man Up, founded in 2011 to provide workforce development and higher education opportunities, resources, and support services to formerly incarcerated men of color.