Decarceration and Public Health Research Collaborative

The United States has the highest rate and number of individuals under correctional supervision in the world. Mass criminalization and mass incarceration, which disproportionately target poor people and people of color, tear through every aspect of social life, from public health and education to housing, labor markets, the opioid epidemic, and the climate emergency. These policies destroy communities and the networks of care and support required to lead productive, healthy lives, without offering long-term economic benefit, security, or safety.

Mass criminalization and incarceration have crept into other institutions, like our public schools, where it is more likely for many students—particularly students of color and LGBTQ students—to end up in the justice system than to receive a high-quality education. Airport-style security is an everyday experience for many students, creating climates of fear and anxiety and undermining healthy development without improving school safety or academic outcomes.

The Decarceration and Public Health Research Collaborative, based in the Department of Epidemiology at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, is a hub for critical science on the causes and consequences of mass criminalization and mass incarceration. We strive to provide scholars, policymakers, movement groups, activists, and advocates with empirical evidence and resources that engage critically with the role of mass criminalization and incarceration in creating and sustaining social, economic, and racialized inequality in the United States.