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Integrated Healthcare and Criminal Justice Data: Viewing the Intersection of Public Safety, Public Health, and Public Policy through a New Lens

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2018
22 pages
This paper from the Executive Session on Community Corrections at the Harvard Kennedy School focuses on a project that involved the integration of health-care and criminal-justice data to improve services for people who cycle in and out of hospitals and police precincts in Camden, New Jersey.
Researchers from the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers (the Coalition) integrated existing health-care and criminal-justice data sets, so as to identify and analyze the experiences of people who had an extreme number of contacts with both systems. A small number of Camden residents were found to have a significant and disproportionate impact on both the health-care and criminal-justice secrors; however, neither of these systems is designed to address the underlying problems these people face, such as housing instability, inconsistent or insufficient income, trauma, inadequate nutrition, lack of supportive social networks, mental illness, and substance abuse disorders. These unaddressed socioeconomic determinants of behavior apparently underlie a cycle of repeated arrests and hospitalizations. The findings suggest a holistic approach for identifying people whose needs place them at risk for involvement in the criminal justice system. Integrated data will enable researchers, policymakers, and practitioners to design earlier interventions to prevent crime and reduce the use of jails and emergency departments. Cross-sector data that extend beyond the criminal justice system to include data on health, housing, employment, and other socioeconomic characteristics provide a holistic view of individuals and their contacts with multiple community systems over time. The Coalition's researchers plan to design and test such interventions in the next phase of this study.

Date Published: April 1, 2018