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Managing Offenders with Special Health Needs: Highest and Best Use Strategies

NCJ Number
Corrections Today Volume: 67 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2005 Pages: 58-61
Elizabeth Anderson; Theresa Hilliard
Susan L. Clayton M.S.
Date Published
February 2005
4 pages
This article discusses the various types of special needs offenders incarcerated in correctional facilities, and the management of their special health needs through the use of special medical housing.
One of the many challenges for the field of corrections is the development of effective strategies to address the unique requirements of offenders with special health needs, ranging from appropriate housing to effective release planning. In order to use both the physical plant and human resources optimally, it is important to develop cost-effective, less restrictive strategies that mainstream offenders with special health needs. It is necessary to identify the many categories of patients with special health needs. These categories include: elderly offenders, the terminally ill, those with communicable and/or chronic diseases, physically handicapped, mentally/developmentally disabled, and blind/deaf offenders. Special medical housing is seen as an effective approach in managing offenders with special health needs. However, this special medical housing has the potential to be progressively expensive and costly as the offenders they serve have increasing levels of medical and physical disability. This article describes four levels of identified special medical housing: environmental support, assisted living, extended care, and infirmary care. This population of special needs offenders (aging, chronically ill, and disabled) will continue to challenge departments of corrections across the country. To manage these offenders effectively and cost efficiently, multiple strategies are needed.