Giving Compass' Take:

• Jennifer L. Doleac explains how research reveals that access to healthcare reduces crime in a cost-effective manner. 

• What are the other benefits of healthcare access? How can funders work to increase access to healthcare? 

• Learn how partnerships can increase healthcare access

Most people who cycle through our criminal justice system have serious health care needs. Three out of every five state prisoners and sentenced jail inmates have a substance abuse problem. Half of state and federal prisoners and two-thirds of jail inmates are in serious psychological distress or have a history of mental illness.

Jails and prisons provide some treatment services, but what if we increased access to treatment in communities so that people could get help before they get into trouble?

New research shows that offering broad access to treatment for these problems is not only compassionate, but also a cost-effective way to reduce crime rates.

The authors found that an increase in the number of treatment facilities causes a reduction in both violent and financially-motivated crime.

The authors estimate that each additional treatment facility in a county reduces the social costs of crime in that county by $4.2 million per year. Annual costs of treatment in a facility are approximately $1.1 million, so the benefits far exceed the costs.

Read the full article on healthcare reducing crime by Jennifer L. Doleac at Brookings.