Presenter Biography

Elijah Rain Hart is a first-year MPH student in the Public Health Practice track at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. Their research interests lie at the intersections of medicine and the criminal justice system.

Institution

OHSU

Program/Major

Public Health Practice

Degree

MPH

Presentation Type

Presentation

Start Date

6-4-2022 12:15 PM

End Date

6-4-2022 12:26 PM

Keywords

Environmental justice, mass incarceration, prison industrial complex

Abstract

Background:

Mass incarceration, the dramatic increase in incarcerated people over the past four decades, disproportionately impacts Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities in the United States. The health impacts of imprisonment in the U.S. are well documented (increased risk for chronic health disorders and mortality). However, public health professionals have only recently recognized the relationship between the prison industrial complex and environmental justice issues.

Methods:

Through a mini-literature review of the experiences of prisoners across the nation, this presentation will examine the location of prisons, exposure to environmental hazards in prisons, and pollution from prisons as key pathways by which the prison industrial complex harms health and contributes to environmental injustice.

Results:

Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities are overrepresented in carceral facilities. Prisons are frequently constructed adjacent to or on top of toxic waste sites, inundated with air or water contamination and sources of pollution. Therefore, recognizing prisons as "fortresses of environmental injustice" and working to dismantle them should become a mainstream public health effort as the environmental justice movement advances.

Conclusion:

By examining prisons in the U.S. through an environmental justice lens and providing an overview of the major pathways by which prisons impact human health, this presentation aims to advocate for policy change that will improve the lives of prisoners and communities around prisons. Future efforts to advance environmental justice should acknowledge the prison industrial complex as a critical component of widening health inequity in the U.S.

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Apr 6th, 12:15 PM Apr 6th, 12:26 PM

Focusing the Lens: Recognizing U.S. Prisons as Fortresses of Environmental Injustice

Background:

Mass incarceration, the dramatic increase in incarcerated people over the past four decades, disproportionately impacts Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities in the United States. The health impacts of imprisonment in the U.S. are well documented (increased risk for chronic health disorders and mortality). However, public health professionals have only recently recognized the relationship between the prison industrial complex and environmental justice issues.

Methods:

Through a mini-literature review of the experiences of prisoners across the nation, this presentation will examine the location of prisons, exposure to environmental hazards in prisons, and pollution from prisons as key pathways by which the prison industrial complex harms health and contributes to environmental injustice.

Results:

Black, Brown, Indigenous, and low-income communities are overrepresented in carceral facilities. Prisons are frequently constructed adjacent to or on top of toxic waste sites, inundated with air or water contamination and sources of pollution. Therefore, recognizing prisons as "fortresses of environmental injustice" and working to dismantle them should become a mainstream public health effort as the environmental justice movement advances.

Conclusion:

By examining prisons in the U.S. through an environmental justice lens and providing an overview of the major pathways by which prisons impact human health, this presentation aims to advocate for policy change that will improve the lives of prisoners and communities around prisons. Future efforts to advance environmental justice should acknowledge the prison industrial complex as a critical component of widening health inequity in the U.S.