Florida Public Health Review


Publication Date

March 2008


Many researchers in social science and criminal justice fields have shown that reproductive health services for women in prisons, jails, and other correctional facilities, including preventive screening, prenatal services, and treatment, is severely lacking. As the rates of incarcerated women continue to soar, for a multitude of political, economic, and structural reasons, it has become increasingly more critical that women’s health issues, including reproductive health, are adequately addressed in the prison health setting. Correctional and health care programs differ strongly in their purpose (punishment or care), primary client served (society or individual), means employed to achieve their purpose (deprivation or therapy), use of force, type of employee training (paramilitary style or academic/clinic based), and system of beliefs. These differing paradigms must be reconciled and strong leadership developed in order to effectively address incarcerated women’s basic reproductive health needs. Whereas some standards and guidelines from various organizations devoted to correctional health have been developed, there are still huge disparities and incongruities in the services offered. Suggested leadership theories and principles included in this paper to address reproductive health services for incarcerated women tend to share common elements, which are primarily collaboration, coalition building, mobilizing, creating common value and ethical standards to fit the health issue and problem solving approach, capacity building, cooperation, visionary leadership, creative solutions, and overcoming barriers in mutually beneficial ways.