PRISONHEALTH: Prisoner health in healthy prisons: Punishment, marginalisation, and access to welfare
In Norway, prisoners retain all rights to welfare provisions while they are incarcerated, including the right to high-quality healthcare services free of charge. At the same time, studies show that a number of physical and mental health problems are relatively common among prisoners. Research also suggests that prison environments in themselves can cause, contribute to and exacerbate health problems. With the PRISONHEALTH project, our aim is to find out whether welfare state health care services reach prisoners, and identify possible challenges and obstacles to healthcare service delivery in prison and how to avoid them in practice. We want to examine the long-term effects of prison healthcare delivery from the perspective of individual prisoners as well as that of general society, including effects on health-related outcomes such as living conditions, criminal activity and post-release mortality. And we want to find out whether prisons can, in some circumstances, provide prisoners with a positive and constructive environment where personal development and growth is possible.
PRISONHEALTH findings may have important implications for national and international policy debates surrounding the growth in imprisonment rates and the nature and quality of health coverage in prison. Our findings will be relevant for prison managers, prison officers, and nurses and medical doctors working in prisons in their efforts to create more healthy prisons. Our research will benefit the various voluntary sector organizations working in the field, including organizations trying to help former prisoners reintegrate back into society post-release. Our ultimate long-term goal is to contribute to strengthening healthcare service delivery in prisons and to help prison and healthcare professionals create more constructive and health-promoting prison environments in both Norway and internationally.