Corrections and correctional facilities as a public health setting in Canada

Publication Summary

This document describes correctional facilities and regulations to protect incarcerated persons’ health. We provide a rationale for the value and importance of public health services, in partnership and in addition to primary care for correctional facilities in Canada.

In the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic context, there has been increasing attention to correctional facilities and other congregate settings as catalysts for infectious disease transmission. It is well known that infectious and other diseases are prevalent in correctional facilities around the world and Canada is no exception. Rachlis et al. discuss the importance of considering the broader environment and the role of social, structural, and environmental factors on transmission of infections, and we are learning that in the context of COVID-19, the necessity of real-time data and preventive health services, as well as a need for the broader and more holistic study of infectious disease transmission in correctional facilities.

The purpose of this paper is to consider incarceration, the movements of people in and out of facilities and communities, and the significance of these factors for infectious disease transmission, and to highlight correctional facilities as important settings for primary health and, particularly, public health partnerships and services. Correctional facilities as a significant setting for preventive and protective services contribute to fulfilling the obligations of government and health systems to support the health state of individuals who are incarcerated, as well as to support the health of communities where incarcerated individuals return.