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Correctional Healthcare FAQs

Providing healthcare services to justice-involved persons and incarcerated persons is a healthcare specialty not widely known or understood. Most healthcare professionals are not exposed to the field of corrections during their education and training, and since the services are provided within correctional facilities, they are not highly visible among the general public for obvious reasons.

However, once exposed to the field of correctional healthcare, healthcare professionals find this field of practice highly rewarding, particularly due to its broad impact on public health and public safety. Here, we address common questions and provide insightful answers about healthcare within correctional facilities.

Frequently Asked Questions About Corrections Healthcare

This FAQ section will explore the services offered, the professionals involved, the differences from outside healthcare, and more.

How many people are incarcerated?

Approximately 1.9 million persons are housed in hundreds of correctional facilities across the US at any given time. More than 95% of presently incarcerated persons will be released and return to the community, making the healthcare and rehabilitative services they receive while incarcerated integral to their success after release.

What is the difference between a prison and a jail?

In general, a jail is a local city or county detention facility where new arrestees are processed (i.e., “booked”) after being charged with a crime, and are generally for short term stays while detainees await their trial or serve short sentences (e.g., less than 12 months). Prisons are generally where persons are “sentenced” to serve a period of time after conviction and adjudication by the courts. There are state prisons as well as federal prisons throughout the US.

What services are provided in corrections healthcare?

Incarcerated persons must be afforded access to medical, dental, and mental health services provided by qualified healthcare professionals and services are held to similar standards as healthcare services in the community. Services are typically provided on site in the healthcare clinic areas of correctional facilities by teams of physicians, dental professionals, nurses, mental health professionals, and other healthcare providers across the broad spectrum of healthcare specialties. Services include primary care clinics, chronic care clinics, dental services, urgent care services, psychiatry, psychology, and physical and other rehabilitative therapies, patient education, and more. Patients requiring highly specialized services or hospitalization are transported to hospitals and specialists in the community.

Who provides healthcare in correctional facilities?

Medical professionals such as doctors, dentists, nurses, and mental health specialists provide healthcare in correctional facilities.

What are the biggest challenges in corrections healthcare?

Incarcerated persons have often had little or no access to healthcare services prior to incarceration and can present with a wide range of complex needs and co-morbid conditions, making their initial contact with healthcare staff a key component to their initial screening and placement within the correctional system. The safety and security protocols of correctional facilities take precedence over all else, which can sometimes interfere with the delivery of healthcare services. However, healthcare professionals working in correctional facilities are viewed as key personnel and vital to the day to day operations of a correctional facility. Some of the biggest challenges in corrections healthcare include managing the complex healthcare needs of a large inmate population, ensuring safety and security, and addressing mental health issues.

Frequently Asked Questions About Correctional Healthcare - Centurion Health Care

What is correctional healthcare?

Correctional Healthcare FAQs - Centurion Healthcare

Corrections healthcare broadly refers to ensuring access to, and the delivery of, a broad array of healthcare services to incarcerated persons in correctional facilities (i.e., prisons, jails).

Are incarcerated individuals entitled to the same level of healthcare as the general population?

The Eighth Amendment to the US Constitution establishes a prohibition against “cruel and unusual punishments”. This clause establishes a right to healthcare services for incarcerated persons, as denying necessary care and treatment would constitute a form of cruel and unusual punishment, and the right has been affirmed in the courts in landmark cases over the years. There are nationally recognized standards of care for correctional agencies and a couple of certifications correctional agencies can pursue to ensure adherence to recognized standards of care.

How is mental health addressed in corrections healthcare?

Mental health in corrections healthcare is addressed through assessments, therapy, medication management, and access to services provided by qualified mental health professionals from all disciplines (i.e., psychiatry, psychology, counseling, etc.). Incarcerated persons with serious mental illness represent a disproportionately high percentage of the overall incarcerated population, and correctional systems must offer adequate mental health staff and services to meet the complex needs of this population.

Is correctional healthcare safe?

Correctional healthcare aims to provide safe and effective medical care to incarcerated individuals while maintaining the security and safety of the facility.

What risks are associated with correctional healthcare?

Delivering healthcare services in correctional settings is challenging and demanding due to the security systems in the facilities and nature of the population served. Some risks associated with correctional healthcare include the potential for violence, communicable diseases, limited resources, and challenges in coordinating care during inmate transfers.

What is the quality of healthcare in prisons?

The quality of healthcare in prisons can vary. However, organizations like Centurion strive to provide high-quality care by employing skilled healthcare professionals and implementing evidence-based practices.

Frequently Asked Questions About Correctional Healthcare - Centurion Health Care

What types of positions are available in correctional healthcare?

Correctional Healthcare FAQs - Centurion Healthcare

Correctional facilities employ a wide range of healthcare professionals including physicians, nurses, psychiatrists, dentists, social workers, healthcare administrators, clerical, and more. There are opportunities for generalists and those interested in specialties like mental health and infectious disease.

What are the typical job duties in a correctional healthcare role?

Duties vary by role but can include providing routine and emergency care, medication management, chronic disease treatment, mental health therapy, discharge planning, infection control, training staff, and coordinating care with custody personnel. Most roles involve patient education and counseling as well. Our multidisciplinary teams implement targeted treatment plans while addressing challenges like healthcare ethics, patient distrust, resource limitations, and high medical complexity.

Is it safe to work in a correctional facility?

Correctional facilities implement stringent security protocols and specialized staff training to maintain a controlled, protected environment for healthcare personnel. With 24/7 correctional officer security, surveillance systems, controlled access, emergency alerts, protective gear, and collaboration with custody staff, Centurion team members can safely provide care to their patients. Correctional healthcare has often been referenced as being just as safe or safer than working in most other community healthcare settings.

What kind of training is provided to work in correctional healthcare?

Centurion Health recognizes that proper training and education is critical when preparing new team members to join our team. Although we require candidates to have the same educational background and professional credentials as they would in any healthcare setting, we also provide robust, ongoing training focused on the unique needs of this patient population. Topics like mental health, crisis intervention, trauma-informed care, addiction treatment, public health protocols, cultural sensitivity, and security procedures are all essential areas of training for our clinical staff. We invest heavily in supplementing our clinicians’ knowledge with specialized correctional instruction to set them up for success. Regular continuing education ensures they remain up-to-date on the latest clinical practices and challenges facing incarcerated patients.

Is corrections experience required to work with Centurion Health?

No. You do not have to have corrections experience to join our team. Our team members come from a wide variety of healthcare backgrounds.

What is the compensation?

Centurion Health offers competitive pay and benefits packages to recruit and retain dedicated correctional healthcare professionals. Pay rates vary by contract, geographic area, and experience level. Connect with our Recruiting team for more details.

Are benefit packages offered?

All full-time and some part-time Centurion Health team members are offered a total rewards package to include competitive pay, generous paid time off, paid holidays, health/dental/vision benefit options, 401k with company match, pet insurance, free CEUs, and much more! We also have a limited benefits offering for our part-time employees. Connect with our Recruiting team for more details.

What can I expect after I submit my online employment application?

Immediately after submitting your online employment application, you will receive a confirmation email that your application was successfully submitted for consideration. If selected for an initial phone screen, one of our experienced Recruiting team members will contact you via phone or email to schedule a time that is convenient for you. The interview process may also include a site interview, facility tour, and/or panel interview.

How long does the interview and hiring process take?

The length of the process varies by location and position. Our goal is timely and efficient selection of the best applicants to join our Centurion Health team. Candidates are updated throughout the process.

What if I still have questions?

If we were unable to answer your questions in the information above, please email your questions to our Recruiting team at and your question will be routed to the correct individual.

How does healthcare in correctional facilities differ from healthcare outside?

Healthcare in correctional facilities goes beyond patient care and is part of a larger effort to rehabilitate incarcerated persons and prepare them for their successful return to the community. Many incarcerated persons have complex medical and/or mental health needs that will persist after their release, making the role of the healthcare professionals key to their long-term success after release.

With years of experience and a commitment to excellence, Centurion has established itself as a leader in the field. We prioritize patient care, safety, and access to essential medical services. Discover how our expertise and innovative approaches contribute to the overall well-being of incarcerated individuals.

Going Beyond Patient Care

We offer a variety of rewarding career opportunities for medical professionals passionate about working in correctional healthcare. Whether you’re a doctor, nurse, mental health specialist, or other healthcare professional, we have positions that allow you to make a difference in the lives of incarcerated individuals by delivering services that go beyond patient care. Our dedicated team provides high-quality care and helps improve outcomes within correctional facilities. Visit our Healthcare Jobs page to learn more about current openings and the benefits of working with Centurion.

Beyond Patient Care

Your New Beginning

Are you ready to start fresh and provide healthcare services that go beyond patient care, making a real and positive difference in the lives of those you serve? Working in corrections you will serve the needs of those who need your services the most. Whether you’re a psychiatric nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse, or a certified nursing assistant, we have just the place for you. Team up with Centurion Health and become a member of TeamCenturion.

Join TeamCenturion Today