Analyzing Annals: Society and Medicine: Sesame Street Goes to Jail
In 2013, Sesame Street launched a new character with an incarcerated father, indicative of how commonly incarceration affects the lives of American families. The authors of the commentary Sesame Street Goes to Jail: Physicians Should Follow argue that physicians have a duty to engage in addressing the problems that result from and perpetuate incarceration. The authors of another commentary, Thinking Outside the Box: Hospitals Promoting Employment for Formerly Incarcerated Persons, point out the difficulty a history of incarceration poses to former prisoners seeking employment following their release from prison, adding to the risk for worsening physical and mental illness and propagating health disparities. They call for expanded programs encouraging employers, including health systems, to cease excluding these individuals from their potential work pools as a means of helping to eliminate rather than perpetuate the cycle of incarceration.
Use these Annals commentaries to consider the following:
- Do you know whether any of your patients have been incarcerated, or have family members who are? Is this an issue about which we should be routinely asking? Why or why not? Do you know common incarceration is?
- What do you think the health consequences might be for your patients whose spouses, children, or other family members are incarcerated? How might knowing about this help in the care of these patients?
- Do you think your health system should employ former inmates? Would this scare you?