Not Equivalent, But Better: Human Rights and Health Care Behind Bars in the Time of COVID


University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics




Tag(s): Past

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the lack of resources and oversight that hinders medical care for incarcerated people in the United States. The US Supreme Court has held that “deliberate indifference” to “serious medical needs” violates the Constitution. But this legal standard does not assure the consistent provision of health care services. This leads the United States to fall behind European nations that define universal standards of care grounded in principles of human rights and the ideal of equivalence that incarcerated and non-incarcerated people are entitled to the same health care. Drawing on a normative analysis and empirical research, this talk describes an incremental strategy based on expanding Medicaid into correctional facilities and improving comprehensive oversight that would move closer to the normative ideal without resolving many of the thorny problems of correctional health care.

Learning Objectives:
1. To understand the foundation in human rights theory for a standard of health care in jails and prisons
2. To define a pragmatic theory for advancing the health care of incarcerated people within the institutions and laws of the United States
3. To explain how COVID-19 has changed the expectations and conditions for carceral health care in the United States

This is an event of the Office of Academic Clinical Affairs (OACA) hosted by the Center for Bioethics and co-sponsored by the following U of MN units: the Center for Antiracism Research for Health Equity, the Human Rights Center, the Medical School, the Program in Health Disparities Research, the Robina Institute, the School of Nursing, and the School of Public Health.

Want to learn more about Dr. Saloner’s work on this topic? Read his publication “A Human Rights Framework for Advancing the Standard of Medical Care for Incarcerated People in the United States in the Time of COVID-19”

Participants are eligible to receive a Certificate of Attendance to submit to their respective professions for CEUs. Certificates of Attendance are available only to live attendees who are present for 75% or more of the talk.

Event start time: 12:15 pm

Event end time: 01:30 pm

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