Incarceration Resources

The Cross-Center Collaboration on the Health of Justice-Involved Women and Children (JIWC) is a group of formerly or currently HRSA-funded faculty, staff and students working on research, policy, training issues and topics at the intersection of incarceration and MCH.

Much of the below list is also available in a 2-page PDF format.


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.26.07 AMIn partnership with the Extension Children, Youth & Family Consortium (CYFC), we present Incarcerated and Pregnant: Promoting the Health of Mothers and Babies, a brief video on the effects of prison and jail environments on pregnant women, and innovative efforts supporting the health of women and their babies. This 7 minute video shares research and practice insights from previous MCH (see Interdisciplinary Institute info below) and CYFC events on supporting health and wellbeing of mothers and their children affected by incarceration. 
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Video of the speakers from our October 2014 event Interdisciplinary Institute on the Reproductive Health of Incarcerated Women in Minnesota is available on our YouTube channel. There you’ll find presentations Preconception and Prenatal HealthPregnancy and Parenting Support for Women in Prison, and other presentations from national experts. You’ll also find remarks from former Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger, an Experiences from the Field panel, and more. This supplemental resource guide contains annotated abstracts for the event.

Consortium webinar title slide screen shotA webinar by the National University-based Child and Family Policy Consortium was held on June 7, 2016. Presenters were Dr. Rebecca Shlafer and Dr. Sara Langworthy of the University of Minnesota, and Sara Benning of the UMN’s Center for Leadership in MCH.

You can view slides of the presentation or watch a recording on the Society for Research in Child Development’s YouTube channel.


Incarceration & Public Health features local and national experts and Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 8.27.34 AMcovers a wide range of topics such as the health of incarcerated individuals, legislation in the US and Minnesota, health care for pregnant incarcerated women, prison nurseries, pregnancy and parenting support for women in prison, conducting research in prison settings, working with incarcerated individuals, mandatory pregnancy testing of incarcerated women, and much more. Read on ISSUU or check out this four-page executive summary.

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Created through a collaboration with the Minnesota Prison Doula Project, this PregnancyResource Guide for Incarcerated Mothers can help pregnant incarcerated women understand what to expect during their pregnancy, labor and birth; how to advocate for themselves; self-care; what to expect after the birth; and more. Read on ISSUU.

Clinical Care Available to Pregnant Women with Opioid Use Disorders in Minnesota Jails–a report by MCH faculty member Dr. Rebecca Shlafer, MCH Program alumna Virginia Pendleton (MPH 2019), and colleagues–provides a summary of results from a statewide survey of correctional health care workers about their facilities’ treatment protocols and the challenges in providing care to pregnant women with opioid use disorder (OUD). Key findings include: (1) correctional health care providers in county jails are facing considerable challenges in meeting the needs of pregnant women with OUD; and (2) there are numerous barriers to providing reproductive health care and substance use disorder treatment to justice-involved women who are pregnant.

Sexual and Reproductive Health: Comparisons of Minnesota Youth in Public Schools and Juvenile Correctional Facilities summarizes the sexual and reproductive health of all Minnesota youth in 9th and 11th grades who took the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey (MSS) compared to the sample of 217 youth residing in juvenile correctional facilities (JCFs).

Physical, Mental, and Dental Health of Youth in Juvenile Correctional Facilities in Minnesota summarizes information about the health care needs—and how those needs are related to access to health care—for the sample of 217 youth (average age 16 years) residing in juvenile correctional facilities who took the 2016 Minnesota Student Survey.


Lactation Practices in Minnesota and Illinois Jails: Implications for the Health of Justice-involved Mothers and their Children was a partnership between graduate students, staff and faculty the Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health at the UMN and UIC. For this project, the team used surveys and interviews to identify lactation accommodations in jails, and compiled best practices for lactation accommodations in carceral settings (including pumping, storage, and breastfeeding). Listen to graduate student Ally Timm’s short Research Day 2020 poster presentation here

Screen Shot 2016-03-31 at 12.10.41 PMA Family Impact Analysis is one approach to examining policies with the goal of understanding the policy’s impact on families. This Family Impact Analysis: Housed Out of Facility (HOF) describes HOF–a strategy that the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC) uses to address over-crowding issues currently facing Minnesota prisons–and reviews the unintended consequences of HOF policies and how they negatively impact an inmate’s children and family.

The Center for Leadership in MCH was one of several stakeholders involved in the Legislative Advisory Committee on the Care of Pregnant Incarcerated Women. You can read the committee’s final report documenting their history, work, and recommendations to the legislature. You can also read about the committee’s efforts in the February 2015 Minnesota Daily article Pregnant women may get law change.


HSEM 2719 – Incarceration and Health: This course considers specific populations at particularly high risk, including detained youth, pregnant incarcerated women, and the elderly. In previous courses, students have revised and taught health curriculum to individuals at the Minnesota Correctional Facility.

PubH X749 – Parental Incarceration and Child Welfare: This course uses an interdisciplinary perspective to explore the complex intersection between parental incarceration and child welfare, focusing on the ways these systems intersect and the impacts on children and families.

PubH X111 – Incarceration: A Public Health IssueThe 2018 Health Disparities Roundtable is an annual event cosponsored by the Center. The 2018 Roundtable was recorded and is available as an online course (CE credits available). There’s also a list with Q&A that were not addressed during the Roundtable due to time constraints.

Keynote Speakers: Dr. Nekima Levy-Pounds (JD), Owner and founder of Black Pearl LLC; Shay Bilchik, Director and Founder of the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy; Lee Buckley, Community Reentry Coordinator, Reentry Services, MN Department of Corrections; and Rebecca J. Shlafer, Ph.D., MPH (MCH 2016) (Moderator)


Student Spotlights are authored by students, and showcase their diverse interests, skills, reflections and passions. Spotlights highlight a practical experience that they have working in an MCH agency or organization. Past Student Spotlights focused on incarceration include:

Read about former students’ applied experiences (APEx) on incarceration: 


Screen Shot 2016-02-09 at 9.04.10 AMCYFC’s Children’s Mental Health eReview on Children with Incarcerated Parents reviews research and provides practice suggestions on the issues facing children and families affected by incarceration. CYFC has also released a list of children’s books relevant to children facing parental incarceration.

 The Minnesota Prison Doula Project (MnPDP) provides pregnancy and parenting support to incarcerated parents. We provide birth support from trained doulas, as well as group-based and individual education and support. The goal is to nurture healthy relationships and increase parenting confidence and skills.​ 

In October 2018, the MnPDP hosted a National Prison Doula Training (co-sponsored by the Center) where prison doulas, or those interested in practicing as a prison doula, from various states in the US, Canada and Mexico were able to learn from each other and from those working within the intersections of full-spectrum reproductive health, justice for incarcerated people, and health policy.

Illinois Birth Justice’s (IBJ) work to be taken over by outstanding partners at the Centers of Excellence in Maternal and Child Health (CoE-MCH) at the University of Illinois School of Public Health (UIC-SPH) and the University of Minnesota. Since its founding in 2015, IBJ has focused on providing services and resources to incarcerated pregnant women and new mothers before, during, and after birth so that they can build positive futures for themselves and their families.