Story: Minnesota

In recent years, there has been an evolving understanding of the factors that create health, including an acknowledgement that incarceration is a social determinant of health. However, many people believe that incarceration’s impact on health occurs almost entirely at the individual level and that it is addressed by providing incarcerated individuals with healthcare in prisons and jails.

The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) knew the story was much bigger and more complicated. While the state prison population is nearly 10,000, MDH realized the health impact extends far beyond that to their families and communities. So the department teamed up with ReThink Health to explore the relationship between health and incarceration by using a “systems thinking” approach that analyzed the the structures and forces at work within the health and criminal justice systems.

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