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Health Literacy: What are the unique challenges in Correctional Ed?

Hi Everyone,

We are having a discussion over in the Health Literacy Group about teaching health literacy in ABE and ESOL programs. We would love to have you all join us in this discussion!

Health Literacy is the ability to...

  • find health information,
  • understand it,
  • evaluate what it means in your life,
  • communicate with others about your or your community's health, and
  • use the information you get to take action that improves your health.

I can see that each step of this model would pose a unique challenge in correctional settings!

Our guest speaker spans the worlds of ABE/ESOL and social work, and can understand these challenges through years of experience in both of these roles. She is sharing some very practical resources for addressing health literacy in a variety of settings through the lens of ESOL. We would love to hear your thoughts, your challenges, and your needs for ideas and resources to help you to address health literacy in your setting!

Please go to the Health Literacy Group and click on "Join". Just stay for next week to hear what we're talking about and add your 2 cents. 

Here is the direct link to the discussion:

Hope to "see" you there!



Heather Erwin's picture
One hundred

Hi Julie,

Thanks so much for the invite!  It is indeed a compelling discussion and there are a lot of ways in which Health Literacy is particularly important, and challenging, in a secure setting.  I've been surrounded by Veterans issues of late and this is a prime example of a population over-represented in the criminal justice setting in need of health information and treatment alternatives. Other important health issues in Corrections are substance abuse and mental health, from which an enourmous number of offenders suffer singularly or in combination. I will make my way "over" to the discussion and hope to get some new and unique opinions from the Health Literacy Group that can be applied to issues found in correctional education classrooms.

Hope to "see;)" many of you there.


Julie McKinney's picture
One hundred

Hi Heather,

Thank you--it will be nice to have your voice in the conversation! I hope others from this Group will "come over" with you!


P.S. Just curious, are speakers of other languages also over-respresented in the the criminal justice system?



Heather Erwin's picture
One hundred

Hi Julie,

Non-english speakers are indeed over-represented in the criminal justice system, and in prisons and jails specifically.  It is not terribly surprising given that most non-english speakers are people of color, and that that is a group already largely over-represented in our criminal justice system, and largely disenfranchized in our society.

fredickjonny's picture

Definitely a beneficial program and I hope it provides thousands of benefits to the people, especially in health care programs. Through the help of different health literacy program experts are able to spread the awareness of health and other health related facilities to the people. I must say that people belongs to rural regions are not getting enough health service facilities; therefore they are always looking for beneficial programs to develop their health care knowledge. Health literacy program would be more beneficial for them to overcome from their health related problems.

Dave Young's picture


As you may know, Andrew Pleasant, PhD, makes a pitch in a recent IOM publication to capitalize on the opportunity to advance health literacy, reduce health disparities, achieve health equity and improve public health working with inmates. The pubilcation (43 pages) is entitled “A Prescription Is Not Enough: Improving Public Health with Health Literacy.”  Check out page 35 – Box 1 – “A Public Health Opportunity: Advancing Health Literacy in Jails and Prisons

The one day IOM workshop consisted of 11 presenters and was held in Irvine, CA, November 21, 2013. The IOM workshop was recorded and presentations and PPTs are available at: