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June 4, 1982

The Role of Organized Medicine in Correctional Health Care

JAMA. 1982;247(21):2923-2925. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320460029009

In the early 1970s, the American Medical Association initiated a program to improve health care in the nation's correctional institutions. The AMA's involvement in such an effort was a surprise to those who viewed organized medicine as one of the "last bastions of conservatism." To them, it was difficult to reconcile the image of the AMA with a program designed to improve the plight of inmates of jails and prisons. After all, prisoners didn't vote, and correctional institutions were at the bottom rung of everybody's ladder. So why should physicians be concerned with the welfare of those who have been charged with transgressing society's laws? In other words, what was in it for physicians?

The skepticism of some segments of the public was matched by some members of the Association. There were state societies and individual physicians who wondered whether the image of organized medicine might not be tarnished rather