Prison Health Care Costs and Quality: How and Why States Strive for High-Performing Systems

Pew Charitable TrustsThis first-of-its-kind report from The Pew Charitable Trusts and the Vera Institute of Justice examines spending trends in prison health care using data collected from two 50-state surveys and interviews with more than 75 state officials. The report also draws from information on the operational characteristics of states’ prison health care systems; whether and how states monitor the quality of care provided, which is the critical counterpart to cost when assessing value; and common care continuity strategies for people leaving prison. The report is meant to paint a comprehensive picture for policymakers, administrators, and other stakeholders of how states fund and deliver prison health care—including targeting high-risk populations, such as those with substance use disorders and mental illnesses—and how the states compare with one another, and some reasons for discrepancies. These stakeholders can use the practical information and insights to help optimize policies and programs to benefit incarcerated individuals, state residents, and taxpayers.