Don’t put kids behind bars, says the AMA

Twenty-seven states have no minimum age for juvenile sentencing. In recognition of this reality, the AMA Delegates House Measures taken to introduce such a lower age limit in the US, where proportionally more children live Interface with the juvenile justice system than in any other country.

Aside from putting children at greater risk of poor health outcomes, the juvenile court system often fails to address the root causes of children’s disruptive behavior, as discussed in a JAMA Pediatrics viewpoint column.

“Research shows that people who experience their first incarceration as young children have worse health outcomes as adults than those who were first incarcerated as juveniles,” the AMA trustee said Drayton Charles Harvey, a California MD PhD student. “We believe that establishing a minimum age for a young person’s entry into juvenile justice will reduce the damaging effects that early involvement of the judiciary can have on children and their families throughout their lives, as we recognize that children and young people need developmentally appropriate trauma. informed care and services.”

A resolution introduced by the Illinois delegation at the interim meeting said: “There is evidence that decriminalizing young children – providing them with adequate support and avoiding handcuffs and cages – is a humane and productive approach with positive impacts on mental and physical development physical health of the very young society. ”

While research by the National Governors Association has identified 15 states that have set the minimum age for juvenile justice at 10, delegates passed a policy to “establish a minimum age of 14 for juvenile justice in the United States.” This is in line with the United Nations recommendation to raise the minimum age for juvenile justice from 12 to 14.

In addition, delegates directed the AMA to “develop model laws to establish a minimum age of 14 for juvenile justice in the United States.”

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For other measures taken at the AMA interim meeting 2022Physicians strove to find ways to reduce the public health burden of incarceration, noting that the US has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

A lack of job opportunities that offer decent wages to people who have been incarcerated makes it difficult to access health insurance coverage for their disproportionately higher rates of high blood pressure and other chronic conditions. Meanwhile, the lack of safe and affordable housing also increases the risk of recidivism in new convictions, retractions and readmissions to prison, according to a resolution presented at the meeting.

To counter this, Delegates adopted policies to reduce the public health burden of incarceration, including:

  • Implementation and incentives for adequate funding and resources for defense systems in need.
  • Enact practices that promote access to stable employment and laws that ensure non-discrimination against workers with non-criminal criminal records.
  • Housing support for ex-prisoners, including programs that facilitate access to immediate housing after release from prison.

In addition, delegates directed the AMA to “work with public health organizations and other interested stakeholders to urge Congress, the Departments of Justice and Departments of Health and Human Services, and state officials and agencies to address the adverse health effects of incarceration.” Minimize supportive programs that provide living wage employment and safe, affordable housing for ex-prisoners and explore alternatives to incarceration.”

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About 41% of the nearly 2 million people incarcerated in the US have a chronic illness, such as high blood pressure, diabetes or asthma, according to a resolution by the United States AMA Medical Student Section.

Recognizing the unique protections that must be afforded to such captive populations, delegates passed a policy to “oppose the practice of drug marketing to those making decisions for captive populations.”

Delegates also approved guidelines to “work with government medical societies to support measures to increase transparency in drug procurement.”

This includes but is not limited to:

  • Requiring those responsible for medical procurement to report gifts from pharmaceutical companies above a minimum amount.
  • Centralization of the selection of formulations in a doctor-run practice, agency or commission based on the principles of a solid formulation.

The AMA will also “advocate for the involvement of physicians and pharmacists in the selection of medications that are available for captive populations such as inmates.”

Read about the others Highlights from the AMA Interim Meeting 2022.

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