American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 883–908 | Cite as

A Systematic Review of Health Impact Assessments in the Criminal Justice System

  • Eva Hom
  • Andrew L. Dannenberg
  • Stephanie Farquhar
  • Lee Thornhill


This study is a systematic review of the current and potential role of a public health tool or process called a health impact assessment (HIA) within the criminal justice system. The review explores the range of criminal justice policies, programs, and projects and their health impacts that have been evaluated by HIAs, and identifies strengths, challenges, and opportunities for the utilization of HIAs in the criminal justice system. Employing HIA clearinghouses and online databases, we conducted a two-phase sample selection that yielded 20 HIAs from the US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand for inclusion. The review analyzed key characteristics of the HIAs including setting, topic, stakeholder engagement levels, funding sources, methods, and recommendations. Factors like high stakeholder engagement, adequate time and staff capacities, and community leadership made HIAs more influential on decisions made. Three case studies highlight the impacts and successful application of HIAs conducted on criminal justice issues. Health impact assessments have potential as an influential tool or process to lead better policy and program decisions in criminal justice by contributing to increasing equity and improving health.


Criminal justice Public health Health impact assessment Public policy Social impact 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Hedwig Lee for her insights and feedback.

Supplementary material

12103_2017_9391_MOESM1_ESM.docx (181 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 185 kb)


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Hom
    • 1
  • Andrew L. Dannenberg
    • 2
  • Stephanie Farquhar
    • 3
    • 1
  • Lee Thornhill
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Health Services, School of Public HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.Public Health – Seattle & King CountySeattleUSA

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