A Public Health Approach to Addressing Prison Harms

About Amend at UCSF

Amend at UCSF is a public health and human rights program that works in prisons to reduce their debilitating health effects on residents and staff, while also joining policy makers and community leaders to advance decarceration strategies and a better, new system of accountability and healing in the US. We focus on health-focused culture-change initiatives, staff training, public education, advocacy, and policy-oriented research.


Any conversation about transformational change in U.S. prisons must start with a call to significantly reduce the U.S. prison population. Getting people out of prison is the priority. Continued mass incarceration undermines public health – for incarcerated people, for the people who work inside prisons, and for the families and communities of all people impacted by these institutions. As a public health program, Amend supports directly impacted people, advocates, lawmakers, and others to advance compelling, evidence-based calls to sharply reduce U.S. prison populations.


As a diverse and growing community of citizens, elected officials, practitioners, and experts advance the cause of decarceration, immediate action is required to reduce the harms that prisons impose on impacted people. Millions of Americans – as well as their families and communities – are suffering today as the result of prisons that are overcrowded and far too often designed and operated to punish rather than to heal and restore. Amend’s initiatives are laser-focused on transforming the norms, practices, and policies that define prison culture and prison healthcare services. Calls for decarceration must also take seriously the urgent need to reduce harms occurring in prisons across our country right now.


Ground-up solutions to improve people’s lives are at the center of transformational change. We believe in the equal dignity and value of every human life – and in the power of every person to play a critical role in transforming the meaning and practice of incarceration in the U.S. At Amend, that means creating space in this movement for all who care deeply about reducing harm and replacing punishment with public health in our prisons.

Making Amends

Making Amends for the broken and destructive system of incarceration in the U.S. requires rejecting our harmful status quo and advancing constructive solutions for a more just, humane, and healthier way forward. Amend is committed to both. We call on health professionals, prison leaders and staff, elected officials, and community members to recognize and act on the current health crisis in United States prisons.


Prison Culture Change Initiative

Bringing international best practices in public health to change the culture in US prisons.

Prison Healthcare System Improvement

Offering analysis and technical assistance focused on improving prison healthcare with a focus on aging and serious illness.

Health Policy Consulting and Analysis

Providing analysis of state and federal legislation, and assistance with developing healthcare-related policies in US prisons.

Research and Evaluation

Creating an evidence base for public health-focused prison culture change and improved healthcare in prisons.