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Enhancing Health Care Services for the Incarcerated

Dr. Meghan Novisky, an assistant professor of criminology at Cleveland State University, has received an Aging Research in Criminal Justice & Health (ARCH) grant to enhance understanding of the unique health care issues facing incarcerated individuals in the U.S. The grant program, which is managed through the ARCH Network with funds provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging, supports a nationwide, multi-disciplinary community of emerging and established researchers aimed at catalyzing research and interventions designed to improve health and social outcomes in the growing population of criminal justice-involved older adults.

Novisky’s project “Correctional Health Services for Older Adults: Older Adult and Caregiver Perspectives,” will seek to assess the current health care environment in prisons by conducting in-depth, focus group interviews with currently incarcerated older adults and their peer caregivers in Kentucky prisons. The effort builds on Novisky’s previous work which identified health care related barriers among older incarcerated adults in the Pennsylvania prison system. This included an examination of the disparate access older men have to health care and preventive health services during incarceration.

“The number of criminal justice-involved older adults has risen dramatically in recent decades, resulting in a largely overlooked population of individuals with high rates of health disparities and profound, often co-occurring social and medical vulnerabilities,” Novisky says. 

“Unfortunately, health research has failed to keep pace with this demographic change, leaving little data on the actual impact this is having on the health of prison populations or what to do about it,” she adds. “Through this research my colleague and I hope to help provide information that will assist in developing interventions to meet this population’s unique needs, including focused programs on geriatric health, managing chronic disease and the social determinants of health.”

The research will be conducted in collaboration with Dr. Stephanie Grace Prost, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Louisville.

The Aging Research in Criminal Justice & Health (ARCH) Network, founded in 2020, is jointly housed at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). It was established with the intention of creating and using evidence-based health and healthcare solutions to design or inform policies and programs that advance criminal justice reform.