Project updates, commentaries, events and news about health across the nation from the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps team.

How Can Reforming Public Safety and Incarceration Impact Public Health?

Friday, October 3, 2014

How is public safety part of your community’s health?  County Health Rankings & Roadmaps program staff welcomed community leaders from 2013 RWJF Culture of Health Prize community, Santa Cruz County, CA to share how they addressed the issues of crime, safety and incarceration to improve community health.

According to representatives from Santa Cruz County, their success revolved around two fundamental points of emphasis:

  1. Community health goes far beyond just the physical and mental well-being of a community.
  2. Tackling these complex issues requires a collective effort from the entire community, including schools, religious institutions, community organizations and residents.

These community strengths have played an important role in transforming criminal justice and public safety.

Central to addressing public safety, Santa Cruz County focused on alternatives to incarceration such as home-supervision, evening centers, faith-based programs, addictions treatment and other innovative tactics. Objective-Risk Assessments are also being utilized to help reform the juvenile justice system by determining which troubled youth might be able to be rehabilitated in their own communities if combined with other social supports such as substance abuse programs instead of incarceration. These assessments have helped to reduce the juvenile detention population in the county by 50 percent.


For more on Santa Cruz County’s prize winning work, click here.

To learn how community safety is important to health, click here.

To watch the webinar, click here.

For Take Action resources, click here