EJI opens new health clinic for former Alabama inmates and low-income residents
The Equal Justice Initiative has opened a new health clinic in Montgomery.
The clinic provides free screenings for chronic diseases that are often left untreated in state correctional facilities. This includes diabetes, high cholesterol, hepatitis, kidney disease and HIV.
The facility is equipped to provide prescriptions and treatment for these conditions as well. The new clinic is a part of EJI’s Anti-Poverty initiative that offers direct assistance to people living in poverty.
Charlotte Morrison is a senior attorney at EJI. She said she believes that poverty is a direct barrier to reducing the rates of incarceration.
“We have a criminal justice system that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than poor and innocent. So, when wealth determines outcomes in the justice system, poverty makes people more vulnerable to mass incarceration,” said Morrison.
Alabama consistently ranks among the highest on poverty indicators. The state also has poor accessibility to healthcare. This creates a vicious cycle of re-incarceration within the state.
“We can support people with housing, employment and food. But if we don’t provide access to health care, it all comes tumbling down,” said Morrison.
Morrison is confident that providing free health care to the vulnerable population will increase safety for the incarcerated and the general public. She also believes that there will be a reduced rate of re-incarceration.
“People who have chronic diseases and behavioral disorders need a healthcare option because without it, the only options are unhealthy ones. That puts individuals at risk for re-incarceration and is not doing anything to improve public health,” said Morrison.
The EJI has been documenting the lack of healthcare within prisons for over a decade. Seeing that the issue is getting worse, Morrison believes that the state’s prison system is in a crisis.
The EJI Health Clinic is available to anyone who has been released from jail or prison. The clinic is consist of a team of physicians, registered nurses, social workers, and anti-poverty staff.
EJI Health also has a mobile clinic that will travel to underserved areas across the state to provide health support and assistance to those in need.
The Equal Justice Initiative is a non-profit organization. The group works with impoverished communities and is committed to changing the narrative about race in America.