Annual Minority Health Conference

2021 PHSAD conference posterPHSAD will be hosting our 34th Annual Conference on Friday, March 12, 2021 from 1 to 5 PM EST and Saturday, March 13, 2021 from 11AM to 12:30 PM EST. This year's conference will be conducted remotely over Zoom.

With this year's Minority Health Conference, we aim to center the health of incarcerated people and show how prison abolition is necessary to achieve health equity. Anyone is welcome to register and attend.


Recommended Reading on Prison Abolition

Accessibility Information: ASL interpreters will be providing access to the D/deaf and Hard of Hearing Community for first day of the conference, March 12, 2021.

Optional CE is available for purchase  (1.0 CHES Category I CECH, Areas of Responsibility 1.3.1, 1.3.3, 1.3.4, 8.1.4)  for the keynote only, on 3/12 from 1:10-2:10pm EST.

CHES eligibility requirements:

  1.  Must sign-in by 1:10pm EST on Fri., 3/12
  2. Must complete evaluation by 11:59pm EST on Sun., 3/21 (will be emailed to everyone who attended on 3/15)
  3. Wait for an email from RVPHTC with instructions (cert course link will be emailed to CHES eligible on 3/22)

The 34th Annual Minority, Health Equity Conference will count towards the School of Public Health Continuing Professional Education Competency. Each hour of conference attendance counts towards 1 CPE.

Conference Agenda: 

Friday, March 12, 2021

  • 1:00 PM Welcome and Opening Remarks
  • 1:10 PM Keynote
  • 2:20 PM Session 1: Covid-19 and the Carceral System
  • 3:30 PM Session 2: Health, Disability, and the Carceral State

Saturday, March 13, 2021

  • 11:00 AM: Welcome 
  • 11:15 PM: Session 3: Abolition as a practice
  • 12:15 PM:  Closing Remarks

Session Descriptions and Learning Objectives

Keynote: Prison Abolition as a Route to Health Equity

Led by: Ericka Huggins

Prison abolition is a key component of health equity. Join Ericka Huggins as she discusses the past, present, and future of the prison abolition movement, alternative forms of justice, and how the prison industrial complex harms us all.

Learning objectives

Attendees will learn…

  • describe the prison industrial complex and its impact on health disparities
  • explain alternative approaches towards justice, such as prison abolition, and the connection to health equity

Session 1: COVID-19 and the Carceral System

Led by: Dr. Nazgol Ghandnoosh (The Sentencing Project)

Nearly 450,000+  people in the United States have died from the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) since it emerged late last year in Wuhan, China. Further, under-resourced and neglected communities of people of color have suffered the most from the spread of this virus, often finding themselves at the mercy of life or death as a result of public health decisions and policies.

Various studies highlight that most coronavirus deaths can be attributed to the combination of COVID-19 and underlying health conditions. Large percentages of Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic people are plagued by preexisting health conditions and disproportionately suffer from comorbidities that make the COVID-19 crisis more deadly. 

More often than not, prisoners are disregarded from society as having any form of rights or say within society. Nearly 1 out of 5 prisoners has contracted COVD-19. Confined living quarters, lack of access to care, and inadequate treatment only confirms that the current prison industrial complex is one of public health’s greatest disasters.  Join Dr. Nazgol Ghandnoosh to learn more about how states and federal authorities have failed to apply effective mitigation strategies to incarcerated populations and how they are neglecting incarcerated people in vaccine distribution plans.

Learning Objectives

Attendees will learn…

  • The progress made before the pandemic to reduce the US prison population and its racial disparities
    How the federal system and states have failed to protect incarcerated people during the pandemic
  • Why reducing excessive prison terms for violent crimes advances both public health and public safety

Session 2: Health, Disability, and the Carceral State

Led by: Dustin P. Gibson (PeoplesHub, Disability Link, Harriet Tubman Collective) and Azza Altiraifi (The Groundwork Collective)

Over the last sixty years, there has been an increased closure of mental health hospitals and other institutional facilities that serve people with disabilities. Many of those occupants found themselves displaced and swept up into the criminal justice system due to minor infractions such as sleeping on the sidewalk. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, people behind bars in state and federal prisons are nearly three times more likely to report having a disability than the non-incarcerated population. Countless people in the carceral system are deprived of medical care, needed support services, and accommodations. Poor conditions in jails and prisons further exacerbate disability and health complications. Evidence shows that prison systems do more harm than good when trying to rectify behavior through punishment. The question that remains unanswered is, are prisons obsolete? Join Dustin Gibson as he discusses health, disability, and the carceral state.

Learning Objectives

Attendees will learn…

  • The history of mental health and prisons - how did we get here?
  • How prisons exacerbate disability, and health complications 
  • What is currently being done to move those with mental health needs away from prisons (and why this is a step towards prison abolition) 
  • The untold truths about carceral system
  • How to get involved and what they can to get involved and to mitigate the issue.

Session 3: Abolition as a Practice

Led by: Angel McKissic (Detroit Justice Center), Desirae Simmons (Liberate Don’t Incarcerate),
and Maria Thomas (Liberate Don’t Incarcerate)

While eradication of the prison industrial complex will take time, there are abolitionist practices we can all use. In both our public health practice and personal lives, what might it look like to free ourselves from the punishment and carceral based systems in which many of us grow up? Join the Detroit Justice Center and Liberate Don't Incarcerate to learn about alternative forms of justice, advocacy for the most marginalized, and how to integrate abolitionist principles into our lives and work.

Learning objectives

Attendees will learn…

  • How the work of local activists and abolitionists impacts health equity
  • What are alternative forms of justice (in lieu of prisons)
  • How to integrate abolitionist principles into life and work
  • What you can do to get involved