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Criminal Justice Health Initiative

The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences (SMHS) Clinical Public Clinical Public Health program has launched an initiative focusing on Criminal Justice Health. The new project is spearheaded by Dr. Newton E. Kendig, Clinical Professor of Medicine, retired Assistant Surgeon General in the United States Public Health Service and former Medical Director of the Federal Bureau of Prisons at the United States Department of Justice.

GW’s initiative on Criminal Justice Health comes at an important time for this often overlooked area of engagement for public health.

  • Every community in America is affected by criminal justice-involved (CJI) populations as millions of persons are annually released from US jails and prisons and return to their families and communities.
  • CJI populations are disproportionately affected with serious health issues important to public health. These include chronic addiction, infectious diseases, and serious mental illnesses.
  • More effectively addressing the health needs of CJI populations will help reduce health care disparities and result in healthier and safer communities.
  • Academic health centers can be pivotal in achieving this goal. They can lead educational efforts, the development of sound public policy, the implementation of meaningful research, and the delivery of quality health care to CJI populations.
  • GW SMHS seeks to improve the health of underserved individuals and populations through university cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Newton Kendig headshotThe initiative on Criminal Justice Health seeks to engages GW faculty and students beyond the medical school to other colleges, such as the School of Nursing, the Milken Institute School of Public Health, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration, and the School of Law and experts, officials and advocates for criminal justice health.

Learn More about the Criminal Justice Initiative and GW's Correctional Health Administration programs here.

Medical Student Elective: Introduction to Correctional Medicine

The GW Committee on Undergraduate Medical Education Curriculum has approved an elective rotation for fourth year GW medical students, entitled “Introduction to Correctional Medicine.”  The clinical practice site for this rotation with be the Central Detention Facility and Correctional Treatment Facility operated by the District of Columbia Department of Corrections. During the four-week rotation students will work in multi-disciplinary teams with direct supervision by experienced correctional practitioners and nursing staff. Medical students will engage with patients in a variety of correctional health care settings including urgent care, chronic care clinic, and the jail infirmary. Additionally, the course will include case study reviews with Dr. Newton E. Kendig, GW Professor of Medicine who has over 25 years of correctional health care experience. This rotation is ideal for medical students who have an interest in correctional medicine as a career; those who have an interest in caring for justice-involved patient populations in the community; and those who have an interest in enhancing their outpatient clinical skills caring for complicated patients.  

Students interested in enrolling for this elective or seeking further information should contact Dr. Kendig at

Criminal Justice Health Webinar Series

GW SMHS holds a Criminal Justice Health Webinar series. The series is moderated by Dr. Kendig and lectures are available on-line as a live audio presentation as well as an enduring recorded event. Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits are available from GW at no cost for health care professionals across multiple disciplines. Learn more about some of our previous webinars and upcoming webinars.

Graduate Certificate in Correctional Health Administration

The GW SMHS Graduate Certificate in Correctional Health Administration, the only graduate certificate training program of its kind in the Nation, provides a solid foundation for professionals seeking a career in correctional health administration as well as valuable training for current correctional health care administrators seeking career advancements. Learn more about the program.

Master's Degree in Correctional Health Administration

The GW master's degree in Health Sciences in Correctional Administration provides advanced online training as well as a supervised practicum in a U.S. jail or prison for students interested in a career in correctional health administration. Learn more about the program.

Medical Student Elective: Case-based Elective in Criminal Justice Health

This two week, discussion-based elective for MS-4 students will introduce medical students to the U.S. criminal justice system and the clinical challenges of managing justice-involved patients. Students will research assigned case studies of justice-involved patients with conditions such as chronic addiction, HIV infection, and serious mental illness. Cases will be discussed with fellow classmates and the Course Director, Dr. Newton E. Kendig. Discussions will focus on optimizing patient history taking by assessing social determinants of health; navigating complicated diagnostic dilemmas; formulating effective treatment plans; and evaluating the public health impact of patient interventions.

Students interested in this elective or seeking further information should contact Dr. Kendig at and review course details in the GW SMHS course catalogue.

Jail Patient Education Initiative

In collaboration with the Georgetown School of Medicine, GW first-year medical students have begun providing monthly patient education sessions as volunteers at the Arlington County Detention Facility. GW and GT students develop health education materials and then present the information to interested detainees in small group, interactive sessions in the jail housing units. The detainees have been very appreciative of this time to gain insights into living healthier lives. For the medical students, this is a unique opportunity to hone skills in advising patients and to learn more about the complex health and social service needs of many justice-involved patients. To learn more about this program, contact Dr. Newton E. Kendig at