A Human Rights Framework for Advancing the Standard of Medical Care for Incarcerated People in the United States in the Time of COVID-19.

Journal Article (Journal Article;Review)

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the lack of resources and oversight that hinders medical care for incarcerated people in the United States. The US Supreme Court has held that "deliberate indifference" to "serious medical needs" violates the Constitution. But this legal standard does not assure the consistent provision of health care services. This leads the United States to fall behind European nations that define universal standards of care grounded in principles of human rights and the ideal of equivalence that incarcerated and non-incarcerated people are entitled to the same health care. In this paper, we review a diverse legal and policy literature and undertake a conceptual analysis of policy issues related to the standard of care in correctional health; we then describe a framework for moving incrementally closer toward a universal standard. The expansion of Medicaid funding and benefits to corrections facilities, alongside a system of comprehensive and enforceable external oversight, would meaningfully raise the standard of care. Although these changes on their own will not resolve all of the thorny health problems posed by mass incarceration, they present a tangible opportunity to move closer to the human rights ideal.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Saloner, B; Eber, GB; Sufrin, CB; Beyrer, C; Rubenstein, LS

Published Date

  • June 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 24 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 59 - 75

PubMed ID

  • 35747287

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC9212822

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 2150-4113


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States