Humane Health Care for Prisoners

Ethical and Legal Challenges

by Kenneth L. Faiver


Delivering health care services in prisons and jails presents challenges, many of which involve ethical and legal concerns. The high cost of health services often compounds these issues.

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Cover image for Humane Health Care for Prisoners

May 2017


Pages 364
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Current Events and Issues/Law and Crime
  Health & Wellness/Public Health

A useful research resource and handy reference, this book discusses the many important ethical and legal issues that arise in the delivery of health care to prisoners at correctional facilities. It references national standards of professional practice as well as the advice of recognized experts.

The mission of corrections is the care and custody of prisoners with a view to public safety within a place dedicated to punishment, while the mission of the medical and mental health professionals in a corrections facility is to care for the health and well-being of the prisoners. Both have a duty to provide care, but their differing roles and objectives give rise to ethical role conflict and disagreement regarding appropriate care strategies.

Humane Health Care for Prisoners considers important ethical and legal issues that arise in the delivery of health care to prisoners, covering topics such as privacy, confidentiality, informed consent, extended isolation and solitary confinement, use of mace, strip searches and body cavity searches, and medical experimentation on prisoners as human subjects. It also considers participation by health care professionals in capital punishment, coerced substance abuse treatment, how much health care to provide, organizational structure and hierarchy, cooperation between correctional and health care staff, and the importance of recognizing mental illness as a chronic condition.

This book is informative for professionals working in corrections facilities, such as physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, nurses, wardens, jail administrators, sheriffs, and corrections officials, as well as legislators and decision makers, attorneys involved in correctional healthcare lawsuits, students of criminal justice, and those seeking to work in the field of correctional health care or in corrections. Additionally, students and professors of medical ethics will find this book helpful in illustrating real-life topics for research and discussion.


  • Clearly lays out the ethical issues in role conflicts or difficult policy questions in correctional health care management
  • Makes the argument that while correctional and medical care professionals have their own goals, policies, and practices in the correctional environment, a willingness to accommodate the key principles and needs of the other party benefits both disciplines
  • Investigates the central theme of what is right and what is wrong, by using ethical principles, court decisions, and accepted national standards as a guide
  • Provides an index designed to facilitate the book's use as a quick and ready reference
Author Info

Kenneth L. Faiver has 42 years of active involvement in the field of correctional health care. He is a certified correctional health professional (American Academy of Correctional Health Professionals) and holds a master's degree in public health. Faiver directed the health care program of the Michigan Department of Corrections for 16 years and was chief medical coordinator for the Puerto Rico correctional health care system for 3 years. He is author of Health Care Management Issues in Corrections, and he has written a number of journal articles and made numerous conference presentations in the field of correctional health care. Additionally, Faiver has conducted numerous health care accreditation surveys for both the National Commission on Correctional Health Care and for the American Correctional Association.



"There is a lot to like about this book. . . . You would be hard-pressed to find a topic not covered. The extensive index and detailed table of contents make searching for a specific topic (e.g. rhabdomyolysis or vicarious liability) quite easy. The content covers both NCCHC and ACA accreditation standards and the standards are indexed. . . . It would be a valuable addition."Correctional Nurse


"From the pen of one of the founders of modern correctional health care, this work is a broad-ranging discussion of the ethical and legal challenges that have shaped our field during the past few decades, mixed with a plea for recognition of the inherent humanity of our imprisoned citizens. Kenneth Faiver's well-researched and footnoted book will be an instant classic; an inspiring read and a useful reference for those trying to understand how to provide safe and effective health care within our jails and prisons. This material will be accessible and useful to corrections professionals whether they are new to corrections or have years of experience."—Dean Rieger, MD, MPH, retired prison physician and recipient of Armond Start Award of Excellence from the American College of Correctional Physicians

"Faiver's passion to promote due respect for the dignity of each man, woman, and child in custody is realized in this excellent book's effort to facilitate and inform ongoing dialogue and communication between health care professionals and correctional authorities about health-related ethical principles and their practical application."—Rev. John P. Foglio, DMin, Associate Professor Emeritus of Spirituality, College of Human Medicine, Michigan State University

"Ken Faiver has written an informative book that provides much-needed information for health care professionals in the criminal justice system. Possibly more than any other specialty, we are in need of practical advice about the ethical and legal challenges we face daily. This book should be in the library of every serious correctional health professional."—Lorry Schoenly, PhD, RN, CCHP-RN, Correctional Health Care Risk Consultant and author of The Correctional Health Care Patient Safety Handbook

"Anyone involved in jails and prisons today has a responsibility to examine and evaluate policies and practices. Faiver helps us to understand how correctional health care has evolved and the complex issues that remain. Today's challenges test our morals as a society and our sense of fairness. They present tough decisions with limited choices. We have the largest correctional system in the free world and as humane and respected leaders we need to get this right."—Jayne R. Russell, M.Ed, CCHP-A, Health Administrator, Consultant, Immediate Past Chair NCCHC

"This book belongs on the shelf in every correctional medicine physician's library. Faiver has comprehensively researched and reviewed the history of correctional medicine and has offered many thoughts on the impact of the history to present-day practice."—Dianne Rechtine, MD, FAAFP, CCHP-A, Correctional Medicine Physician and Consultant

In the News

National Commission on Correctional Health Care, Kenneth L. Faiver Wins the 2017 B. Jaye Anno Award of Excellence in Communication, 8/19/2017

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