Helping Incarcerated Women Access Health Care

(dramatic music) – I'm Kriya Patel, and with my
project I plan to help women about to be released from
a local Philadelphia jail obtain health insurance in
order to continue access to stabilizing medication. So, at Riverside Correctional
Facility, 66% of the women are currently on medication
for behavioral health issues, and when they're
released they're only given five days worth
of medication, and none of these women have
health insurance. This means that after
five extremely short days, in addition to the
challenges of finding a job and finding housing,
they are now off of their much needed medication. Getting them Medicaid from
the moment they're released will allow them to continue
to have access to medication. – I met Kriya
in a class I teach inside the women's
jail in Philadelphia. She called me and said she
wanted to make a proposal for the President's
Engagement Prize. The goal is to get
everyone who is in Riverside jail
health insurance. – Kriya and her staff
will solicit interest from the inmates, and we expect
that interest to be very, very high, in part
because so many of the women here have children. Average number of children
for the women at Riverside is over four, so there's
a great family that needs to be cared for and
supported, and that can only be done if the person is
physically and mentally well. – We also plan to hold
educational sessions with the Pennsylvania Prison Society
to explain what Medicaid is, how you can use it, what
the local Philadelphia heath resources are
so that the project is really effective and women
can really gain from having this access to Medicaid
and access to healthcare. Over the course of a year
there's around 5,000 different women that pass through, and
my team and I hope to help these women apply for
and secure Medicaid over the course of the year. – [Bruce] There's very good
evidence that, if a person has insurance, that they
are less likely to return, because that is a
portion of the problem of their life that's resolved. So, as we can piece together
these supports for people, then they can have useful
lives in the community, self-respect and success,
and not return to the prison. – I see Kriya one day
leading a national effort to reduce recidivism
in our society. – I hope that she stays
in the public service because people like her
are very much needed. – My hopes for the project
are that after a year we're able to really demonstrate
that it's reduced recidivism, and it's really
allowed the women to turn their lives around. – [Kathleen] What's special
about this prize is that they're rewarding people like
Kriya who want to be engaged in the community at large. I hope this project is just
the beginning for Riverside, and I also hope that
it serves as a model, because it would be
helpful to ladies all over this country.

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