By Eric Gaertner
MUSKEGON COUNTY, MI – Muskegon County decision-makers will have detailed community health impact information available as they consider options for a new jail.
Public Health-Muskegon County is conducting a health impact assessment designed to use evidence and information for help in guiding decisions, such as site selection, economic items, design and ongoing monitoring of the jail-replacement facility.
In proposing the assessment, health department officials claim the results will provide a “long-term prevention strategy to reduce the future need for incarceration.” Jail programs, including diversion, are set to be part of the assessment.
Public Health-Muskegon County’s offer to conduct the Health Impact Assessment for the jail and juvenile transition center was accepted by the Muskegon County Jail and Juvenile Transition Center Committee. The committee of officials is charged with issuing recommendations to the Muskegon County Board of Commissioners this summer concerning a potential jail/transition center site and funding mechanism.
“We’ve been impressed with the way it’s been received,” said Gwen Williams, Public Health-Muskegon County’s Maternal and Child Services supervisor. She is hopeful that it will lead to additional health assessments being conducted for projects in the community.
“It’s exciting, because no one, in my knowledge, has done a Health Impact Assessment for a jail,” said Faith Groesbeck, public health educator at the county health department.
Williams and Groesbeck have been trained in conducting Health Impact Assessments through Human Impact Partners, a company based in Oakland, Calif.
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