Article Title

Inmates As Public Health Sentinels

Publication Title

Washington University Journal of Law & Policy


The conditions in some correctional facilities are redolent of conditions in prisons in the United States a century ago. In 1894, Dr. Julius Ransom, a prison physician, reported that 25% of the 1000 inmates at the prison in Dannemora, New York had active tuberculosis. In his report to Congress in 1907 the rates were unchanged and half of the prison mortalities were attributed to tuberculosis. One hundred years later (and despite the widespread availability of modern diagnostics, knowledge about containment, and multi-drug regimens for communicable disease) some American prisons remain incubators of this same scourge. Too little attention is being paid to inmates as public health sentinels. Too little attention is paid to preventing, diagnosing, and treating conditions that can poison life for families and members of the free-world society.