Health services for prisoners

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d351 (Published 22 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d351
  1. Michael Levy, director
  1. 1ACT Corrections Health Programme, GPO Box 825, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia
  1. michael.levy{at}act.gov.au

Still cause for concern, but also for hope

The World Prison Brief currently records 9 949 696 prisoners in the world,1 a decrease from the number reported in the BMJ in 1997.2 Russia has released many prisoners, but China still accounts poorly for its prisoner numbers. Notably, it is the reporting of prisoner numbers that has improved. If a state deprives citizens of their liberty, then at the very least they must be publicly accounted for.

The number of countries abolishing the death penalty or implementing alternative sentences is increasing.3 Fifty six countries executed prisoners in 2001, but only 18 did so in 2009. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of a person’s health, and its continued use must be vigorously opposed by health professionals.

Ian Waldie/Getty

The World Health Organization acknowledges the public health risks of incarceration and the potential opportunities for connecting with otherwise inaccessible citizens to engage in health interventions.4 Since 1995, the Health in Prisons Programme has helped the vestigial health services in …

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