What is my interest in public health?
First, public health concerns itself with the overall health of communities, and it includes physical, mental, and social health education and disease prevention. It is extremely broad in scope and addresses health on a macro, community-based level.
Let me first qualify something. I have no formal public health education. I have no specific degree in the discipline, nor have I participated in a certificate program. In that respect, I am uneducated and untrained in the field.
On the other hand, I followed my wife through her MPH (Masters in Public Health) and her current course study for a DrPH (Doctor of Public Health Leadership). She uses me as a sounding board as she prepared projects and papers and now as she develops a doctoral thesis. As she focuses on her classes, I draw parallels with my criminal defense practice, and its applicability to the field are striking. In fact, one overriding theme repeats itself in almost every scenario, topic, or discipline that she studied:
Criminal behavior is caused, in part, by a failure or oversight in a community’s public health system.
Is it the only reason for criminal behavior? No. Was a failure in our public health system apparent in every criminal case I’ve touched in the last several years? Absolutely.
For this reason, I take an interest in public health initiatives, funding, and application in various communities. I particularly take an interest in ways public health programs help to reduce the level of crime within various populations.
Unfortunately, public health is not a profitable venture. Healthcare systems make millions of dollars fixing sick people, but preventing illness (physical, emotional, or social) generates little revenue. Despite the fact that public health initiatives cost relatively little, their lack of profitability make them undesirable with regard to the health care industry’s bottom line.
This means that public health programs largely fall to the government, and injecting government bureaucracy into any program presents a level of inefficiency that often cripples even the strongest of initiatives.
Legal treatment of public health generally overlooks criminal behavior. Instead, they focus on organizational legal issues such as the legality of responding to public health emergencies or preventing the spread of various illnesses. So far, I have not found any studies or examinations on the link between public health programs and criminal behavior. My motivation in this area stems from investigations into the lives of my own clients and their crimes. In my view, their crimes were preventable, and it starts with their upbringing in their communities.
As we move forward, I hope to address the various public health failures that result in a spike in criminal activity. More importantly, we will address ways to potentially fix these problems.