Justice Health

  • About

    Young people and adults who come into contact with the criminal justice system are among society’s most vulnerable. They are distinguished by a high prevalence of complex, co-occurring health problems, typically set against a backdrop of entrenched disadvantage.

    The Justice Health Group is led by Professor Stuart Kinner, an NHMRC Senior Research Fellow who also holds honorary appointments at the University of Melbourne, Monash University, University of Queensland, and Griffith University. The Group seeks to generate world-class evidence regarding the health and health service experiences of justice-involved young people, and to advocate for evidence-informed policy to improve their health outcomes. Addressing the health needs of justice-involved young people is important to addressing health inequalities at the population level.

    The Group works closely with health and justice agencies in Australia, with leading researchers internationally, and with key international agencies including WHO and UNICEF.

    Current projects

    Deaths in young people involved in the youth justice system (YJ-Mort) study

    Young Australians who come into contact with the youth justice system are a profoundly marginalised population with greatly reduced chances for life and health. The YJ-Mort study is the first study, globally, to rigorously and comprehensively examine mortality outcomes in young offenders.

    Health After Release from Prison (HARP) cohort study

    The HARP study is the world’s largest prospective cohort study of adults released from prison across two states in Australia (Queensland and Western Australia). A total of 2,701 people were interviewed within 6 weeks of expected release from prison.

    Mapping the scope and character of prison mental health services in Australia

    The prevalence of serious mental illness is markedly higher among people in prison than in the wider community. This project involves the first ever national survey of mental health service provision for prisons in Australia.

    Mortality After Release from Incarceration Consortium (MARIC) study

    The MARIC study is a consortium of 28 longitudinal studies from around the world, each of which has examined mortality in people after they have been released from incarceration (which includes both prison and jail in the USA).

    Staying Quit After Release (SQuARE) trial

    Rates of tobacco smoking are extremely high among people cycling through Australian prisons, estimated at 74% of prison entrants in 2015. The SQuARe trial is designed to support continued abstinence from smoking among previously smoking adults released from smoke-free prisons in Victoria.

    The national youth justice data linkage project

    This project will link the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare’s (AIHW) nationwide youth justice records 2000-2019 (N~95,000) with national emergency department, hospital, Medicare, Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and National Death Index data. It will, for the first time globally, document patterns and predictors of health service utilisation, health outcomes and death in young people exposed to the youth justice system, at the national level.

    YSAS public health industry partnership project

    This project is a close collaboration between the Justice Health Unit and YSAS (Youth Support and Advocacy Service), laying the groundwork for rigorous, translational research designed to improve the lives of Victoria’s most vulnerable young people.

    Past projects

    The health of vulnerable children and adolescents (Children deprived of liberty)

    Globally, many millions of children and adolescents are deprived of liberty in diverse settings including youth detention, adult prisons, asylum seeker detention, and notionally therapeutic settings such as inpatient psychiatric wards and drug treatment facilities. The UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty will generate much-needed global evidence and help establish the health of these vulnerable young people as a global development priority.

    The health of young people in the youth justice system

    The health burden in adolescents is concentrated in vulnerable subgroups, including those who come into contact with the youth justice system. This project was a Lancet series of 3 papers on the health of adolescents who come into contact with the youth justice system globally.