Is Incarceration a Public Health Issue? A Podcast with Drs. Faye Taxman and Niloofar Ramezani

In this episode of JPHMP Direct Talk, members of the APHA Health Administration Section and the APHA Human Rights Forum speak to Drs. Faye Taxman and Niloofar Ramezani about the macrofactors that influence local jail populations.

The relationship between health care service accessibility in the community and incarceration is an important, yet not widely understood, phenomenon. Community behavioral health and the criminal legal systems are treated separately, which creates a competing demand to confront mass incarceration and expand available services. As a result, the relationship between behavioral health services, demographics and community factors, and incarceration rate has not been well addressed. Understanding potential drivers of incarceration, including access to community-based services, is necessary to reduce entry into the legal system and decrease recidivism. In a new study, Dr. Niloofar Ramezani and Dr. Faye Taxman and colleagues identify county-level demographic, socioeconomic, health care services availability / accessibility, and criminal legal characteristics that predict per capita jail population across the US. 

APHA HA Section mentoring committee chair and Human Rights Forum chair Dr. Mirna Amaya and Human Rights Forum communications chair Dr. Becky Pearson recently had a chance to speak with two of the study’s authors about the urgency of addressing this challenge.

About Our Guests

Faye S. Taxman, PhD, is a University Professor at George Mason University. She is a health service criminologist. She is recognized for her work in the development of seamless systems-of-care models that link the criminal justice system with other health care and other service delivery systems and reengineering probation and parole supervision services. She has conducted experiments to examine different processes to improve treatment access and retention, to assess new models of probation supervision consistent with RNR frameworks, and to test new interventions. She developed the translational RNR Simulation Tool ( to assist agencies to advance practice. Dr. Taxman has published more than 200 articles. She is author of numerous books including Implementing Evidence-Based Community Corrections and Addiction Treatment (Springer, 2012 with Steven Belenko). She is co-Editor of Health & Justice and Perspectives (a publication of the American Probation and Parole Association). [Full bio]

Niloofar Ramezani, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Statistics at George Mason University and the Chair of the APHA Applied Public Health Statistics section. She is a statistician/ biostatistician and research methodologist actively involved in applied and collaborative research. Her areas of interest span both applied and theoretical statistics including optimal sample size estimation, high-dimensional data modeling, missing data strategies, categorical data analysis, longitudinal and multilevel modeling, time series, data visualization, and survey methodology. Her work focuses on developing innovative research tools to answer questions across different fields, especially biomedical and social science.

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About Our Podcast Hosts

Mirna P. Amaya, PhD, MPH is the Chair of the Mentoring Committee within the Health Administration Section [] of the American Public Health Association (APHA) and liaison with JPHMP Direct. She is also the Chair of the APHA Human Rights Forum and a Governing Councillor for APHA. She works as a full-time independent Senior Consultant and is also affiliated as a researcher with the University of Florida. She has experience providing technical assistance to different organizations at the local, regional and global levels.

Becky Pearson, PhD, MPH, is a professor in the Health Sciences Department at Central Washington University. She teaches public health at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and has a focus on human rights, structural competence, and societal decision making. Dr. Pearson currently serves as the Communications Chair for APHA’s Human Rights Forum.