The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has established a criminal justice research center that is aimed at informing public health practice.
The Southern Public Health and Criminal Research Center (S-PAC), established by the Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health at UAMS, will be charged with spotlighting the “challenges associated with criminal justice involvement and its impact on families and communities,” according to a university news release. To do this, S-PAC officials will “conduct, analyze and disseminate research” concerning criminal justice.
Nick Zaller, Ph.D., will direct the new research center. Zaller is a professor in the College of Public Health Department of Health Behavior and Health Education.
“We will specifically focus our efforts on the southern U.S., where mass incarceration is particularly severe,” Zaller said in a statement. “We hope to better understand the epidemic of mass incarceration within a local context so we can address the needs of those populations most severely impacted.”
This center will have four core units, including administrative, education and training, research and evaluation, and dissemination and policy.
Currently, researchers are working on projects that address probation revocations in Pulaski County, developing an Aging Research in Criminal Justice and Health network, using digital health to treat substance use disorder in the criminal justice system, and increase use of HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis for high-risk jail detainees.
“Our ultimate goal is to eradicate racial, economic and public health inequities related to criminal justice involvement,” Zaller said.