Criminal Justice Health Initiative

Newton E. Kendig, MD

Clinical Professor of Medicine
Medical Director, Federal Bureau of Prisons (retired)
Assistant Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service (retired)

The George Washington University Center for Healthcare Innovation and Policy Research is launching a new initiative focusing on Criminal Justice Health. The new project is spearheaded by medical school professor Dr. Newton E. Kendig, 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.


Criminal Justice Health Initiative

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

1. 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.

2. CJI populations are disproportionately affected with serious health issues important to public health.These include chronic addiction, infectious diseases, and serious mental illnesses. 

3. More effectively addressing the health needs of CJI populations will help reduce health care disparities and result in healthier and safer communities.

4. 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.

5. GW’s School of Medicine and Health Sciences seeks to improve the health of underserved individuals and populations through university cross-disciplinary collaboration and innovation.The initiative on Criminal Justice Health seeks to engage 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.

The GW initiative in Criminal Justice Health is in its earliest stages. Potential future contributions to the university and the field of CJH could include, seminars to inform the development of public policy on cutting edge issues germane to criminal justice health; opportunities for medical students and residents to have more direct patient care opportunities with CJI patients; innovations that advance public health by creatively addressing unmet health needs of CJI patient populations; and leadership in promoting effective investments in CJH research. 

Advancing the field of Criminal Justice Health on multiple fronts will require a collaborative effort among stakeholders beyond the academic health sciences community. These include health care professionals caring for CJI populations in US jails and prisons, and while under community supervision; federal, state, and local public safety administrators; public health officials; private corporations; advocacy groups; correctional accrediting organizations; front-line correctional officers and criminal justice-involved patients and their family members. GW will be seeking to engage these stakeholders as it develops its agenda and priorities for this initiative.

GW provides free Continuing Medical Education (CME) for correctional healthcare professionals. Please be sure to subscribe to our page to stay up to date on the latest webinars and CJH content! To learn more about the Criminal Justice Health Initiative at GW listen to CHIPR's podcast with Dr. Kendig. To learn more about Dr. Kendig and what inspired him to work in correctional medicine be sure to read his profile here