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The Australian Medical Association (AMA) released a new position statement on Health and the criminal justice system (2012) on 15 August at the Justice health in Australia: equity in health care symposium in Canberra.
AMA Vice President, Professor Geoffrey Dobb, said that the AMA is calling for an adequately resourced and nationally coordinated whole-of-government approach to health in the criminal justice system.
Professor Dobb said that many prisons and detention facilities in Australia currently provide a number of health and social support services, practices and activities recommended by the AMA, but there is a lack of national consistency in quality and quantity of these services.
'There is a strong association between imprisonment and poor health,' Professor Dobb said.
'Many prisoners come from disadvantaged backgrounds characterised by high levels of unemployment, low educational attainment, drug and alcohol addiction, insecure housing, and illiteracy and innumeracy.
'The growth in the Australian imprisonment rate in recent decades has disproportionately affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, those with mental illnesses, and people experiencing socio-economic deprivation.
'Imprisonment can accentuate and further entrench the social and health disadvantages that contribute to incarceration in the first place.'
The position statement is available from the AMA website, or via the HealthInfoNet link below.
Source: Australian Medical Association
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