Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin is a family physician who worked in British Columbia’s provincial correctional centres starting in 1994. In 2000 she initiated a cervical cancer screening pilot inside prison, and later assisted with the HPV primary screening study in B.C., “HPV-FOCAL”. In 2005 she became the Inaugural Director of the UBC Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education (CCPHE), a network of academic, community and prison persons interested in improving the health of individuals in custody, their families and communities. Dr. Martin introduced the unique concept of engaging women in prison, prison staff and academics in participatory health research (PHR) to address concerns raised by the women themselves. Over 200 women became members of the PHR team over three years, and their work included conducting 16 peer health surveys, hosting 10 health research forums, developing and presenting 46 health educational PowerPoints, writing health advocacy letters and presenting to the local high school. In 2013, she was co-principal investigator for the “Bonding Through Bars” project, which examined the topic of children born to incarcerated parents, and was an expert witness in the B.C. Supreme Court case, which ruled that the decision to cancel a provincial correctional facility mother-child unit infringed the constitutional rights of mothers and babies. In March 2014, Dr. Martin and CCPHE developed best practice evidence-based Guidelines for the Implementation of Mother-Child Units in Canadian Correctional Facilities.
Watch the video below to find out about Ruth’s Wall Solutions project.
Primary Recipient Awards
Beyond Borders and Walls: Collaborating for Change in International Prison Health Research
The health of individuals with incarceration experience is impacted by systemic challenges: 1) vast health inequities compared with the general population, and 2) Indigenous peoples and other racialized people are over-represented at all levels of the criminal justice system. These systemic challenges relate to the intersection of race, class, gender and sexuality and are rooted in criminalization and institutional policies that arise from colonial structures. This is of particular significance in the Pan American countries where incarceration affects large and growing numbers of people. The Roundtable will engage in interdisciplinary collaboration using participatory health research (PHR) approaches to address these systemic challenges from the ‘ground up’, seeking unique advances in knowledge to improve the health of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The Roundtable will provide a unique opportunity to bring together interdisciplinary scholars, community and correctional leaders, artists, policy makers, and individuals with incarceration experience from the United States, Brazil, and Canada to explore solutions to the vast systemic issues faced by individuals with incarceration experience.
Supporting the Achievement of Health Goals with Formerly Incarcerated Men
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Ruth Martin, School of Population and Public Health, UBC
Partner(s): Ms. Catherine Latimer, John Howard Society of Canada
Incarcerated individuals, 90% of whom are male, suffer vast health inequities compared to the general population. They face multiple barriers to reintegration, and to seeking and receiving health care and health support following their release from correctional facilities. This community-based participatory research project seeks to answer the question, “Will peer health mentoring result in successful reintegration and achievement of health goals for men leaving federal correctional facilities in BC?” The aim is to determine what the health goal priorities are for formerly incarcerated men and if peer health mentors improve the achievement of individuals’ health goals. The project will invite, train, and support formerly incarcerated individuals to become peer health mentors. The mentors will work with men recently released from correctional facilities to address and meet their self-identified health goals. This project has the potential to produce life-altering results, increasing men’s chances of successful reintegration, and becoming self-sustaining, contributing citizens.
Bonding Through Bars: Protecting the Health and Bond of Incarcerated Mothers and their Children
Principal Investigator(s): Dr. Ruth Elwood Martin, UBC Collaborating Centre for Prison Health and Education SIFP, Department of Family Medicine, UBC; Kirsten Hargreaves, Centre for Environmental Health Equity; Samantha Sarra, Centre for Environmental Health Equity; Tara Zupancic, The Centre for Environmental Health Equity.
The relationship between mother and child is fundamental to life. When that relationship is injured, far reaching consequences result for future generations and for society as a whole. According to the Elizabeth Fry Society, approximately 25,000 children in Canada are living with their mother behind bars. These children are more likely to encounter extreme poverty, trauma, grief and to be victims of violence. Despite its critical importance to the health of our families and communities, there is a serious lack of research on this topic. We propose a pioneering inquiry into how a cross-disciplinary, equity focused approach can have a lasting impact and provoke systems change to support the needs and health of incarcerated mothers and their children.
Co-Principal Investigator Awards