Last two free Touro lectures on incarceration, public health

Vallejo Times-Herald
by Rachel Raskin-Zrihen
10/19/2017

Register here for the final FREE Social Justice Series Lecture on 11/13/2017: Addressing the Prison Epidemic: Where Do We Go from Here? from Matthew Pillischer, director of "Broken on all Sides"

There are two more free lectures planned at Vallejo’s Touro University as part of a series focusing on the health impacts of incarceration — not just on inmates, but also on their families and communities.

“Mass incarceration is a major public health challenge facing the United States, impacting millions of people cycling through the justice system every year,” said Gayle Cummings, director of the Touro Public Health Program. “These populations experience higher rates of chronic health problems, substance use, and mental illnesses than the general population upon their release back into the community.”

Vallejo is deeply impacted by incarceration, she said.

“In 2011, 1,511 individuals were paroled from state prison to Solano County and as of June, 2015, 3,277 people were under supervision by Probation — with 31 percent of those living in Vallejo,” Cummings said. “Vallejo has resource limitations for dealing with this burgeoning problem, as there are limited community clinics, limited access for Medi-Cal patients, and limited mental health and substance abuse resources.”

Combined with the social determinants of health, like high unemployment rates, and skyrocketing rents in Solano County, the Social Justice Series at Touro “focused on health equity and criminal justice, provides a forum for greater understanding of these issues and strategies for addressing this important topic at the local level,” she said. 

To help address these issues locally, Touro is including an expanded curriculum to its Masters of Public Health program, Cummings said.

“The health impacts of incarceration on individuals, families, and communities is an often overlooked public health epidemic,” she said. “Touro University California’s Public Health Program hopes that the Social Justice Series focused on health equity and criminal justice provides a forum for greater understanding of these issues and strategies for addressing this important topic at the local level.” 

As part of commitment, Touro officials are developing a new concentration in Health Equity and Criminal Justice for the Masters of Public Health degree beginning next year, Cummings said.

“This series is also intended to serve as a launching point for this new MPH concentration,” she said.

There are two lectures remaining in the six-session series. Both are being held from 5 to 7 p.m. on campus, at Lander Hall Auditorium B, 1310 Club Drive, in Vallejo.

The first is planned for Monday on “ Re-entry & Health Panel (Mental Health/PTSD),” with keynote speakers, Three-strikes Program attorney Susan Champion, and Solano Community College’s Saki Cabrera.

The second, set for Monday, Nov. 13, features Matthew Pillischer, director of the film, “Broken on all Sides,” on the topic of the prison epidemic: Where do we go from here?

The lecture series is free and open to the public, and registration is required. For continuing education attendees, each session is worth two continuing education credits per lecture through the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

Contact Rachel Raskin-Zrihen at (707) 553-6824.

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