Liberation is Essential: Leveraging Governmental Public Health Tools to Address the Harms of the Criminal Legal System

January 2022

We partnered with Critical Resistance to provide examples of how local, state, and territorial health departments can use the 10 Essential Public Health Services to support abolitionist visions and campaigns.

There is staggering evidence and growing consensus that policing and carceral systems actively harm individual, family, and community health in the United States and beyond. When we understand the prison industrial complex (PIC) as a social determinant of health and driver of health inequities, it is clear that the field of public health must address the harms of carceral systems as a fundamental element of health equity work.

The current systemic reliance on punishment, confinement, and surveillance is not inevitable; effective non-carceral systems of community-based safety and accountability exist. As in efforts to eliminate lead poisoning or other public health hazards, it is critical that we tackle the PIC with an anti-racist and root cause analysis. When we do, abolition emerges as the most practical and necessary solution. 

Governmental public health has a crucial role to play in promoting health, dignity, and safety for all. This resource provides non-exhaustive examples of how local, state, and territorial health departments can use their power to support abolitionist visions and campaigns. We use the 10 Essential Public Health Services, which were recently updated to center equity, as an entryway to discussing steps HDs can take to shift policy, practice, and resources.

Open resource

 


 

To learn more about this resource, contact Amber Akemi Piatt at amber@humanimpact.org.