For Immediate Release

Contact: Andrea E. Garcia, Touro University California
Associate Vice President, University Advancement

W: (707) 638-5272
C: (707) 280-8771




Touro University California Offering a New Concentration in Health Equity and Criminal Justice for Master of Public Health Students

This first of its kind concentration will prepare students to address the impact of criminal justice involvement and mass incarceration on the health of individuals, families and communities

(Vallejo, CA – October 2nd, 2019) – Residents in communities with high incarceration rates have higher levels of stress, infectious disease, and chronic health conditions. Systemic racism plagues the US criminal justice system placing disproportionate economic, medical and social burdens on African American and Latinx communities. It became clear to Touro University California (Touro) that the public health implications of mass incarceration are far reaching, and that the social determinants that predict health outcomes are the same determinants that intersect with our current criminal justice system and mass incarceration. 

To help address these issues, Touro’s Master of Public Health is now offering students the opportunity to enroll in a new concentration focused on health equity and criminal justice. Touro’s is the first graduate program, accredited by the Council of Education for Public Health (CEPH), that will offer this type of concentration. This program will prepare graduates to understand the public health impacts of mass incarceration and advocate for health equity within the criminal justice system.

“Our new concentration aims to train socially-conscious public health professionals to address the health impacts of the U.S. incarceration epidemic,” said Assistant Dean & Program Director Dr. Gayle Cummings. “Our ultimate goal is to work upstream on programs that prevent mass incarceration by influencing policy and working directly with policy makers to implement policies that would improve public health.”

Framed within core public health concepts, the heath equity and criminal justice concentration will provide students with a specialized curriculum centered on the criminal justice system, re-entry and recidivism, and the social and community impacts of incarceration. Students will also be required to complete their field study at a California correctional facility or community group working with populations impacted by incarceration.

“Our faculty and students will contribute to the expansion of research focused on health and criminal justice while promoting social justice and health equity concepts across various sectors,” noted Dr. Cummings. “Graduates will be well-prepared to become prominent advocates to mitigate the impacts of mass incarceration through advocacy and policy work, and also through the design, implementation and management of effective prevention and social service programs.”

Touro Public Health Program leaders became interested in the intersection of criminal justice and public health back in 2015 and started thinking about how they could weave criminal justice and health equity concepts into their current programs. During their research they learned that there were no other Master of Public Health programs in existence with this concentration. In 2017, the college found that both students and the community saw this new concentration as a benefit especially if it addressed topics including institutional racism, the social/historical contexts for incarceration, and the impacts of incarceration on individuals, families and communities. Last year, the college piloted the initiative with a Criminal Justice and Public Health course that was made available to students and community residents to great success and looks forward to seeing how future graduates from this new concentration will make a positive impact in the communities they serve.

“I’m proud of our Public Health Program leaders for working with students and the community to fill a much-needed gap that will work across disciplines to improve the lives of those in our communities affected by incarceration,” said Provost and Chief Academic Officer Dr. Sarah Sweitzer.  “This truly lies at the heart of the Touro mission to serve, to lead, and to teach rooted in social justice.” 

For students interested in learning more about the program and/or applying, please contact Joseph Villaluna, Touro Recruiter/Enrollment Specialist at 707-333-9960. Applications for the program are due by April 15, 2020. The GRE is not required for admission and financial aid is available for qualified students.

About the Touro College and University System:

Touro is a system of non-profit institutions of higher and professional education. Touro College was chartered in 1970 primarily to enrich the Jewish heritage, and to serve the larger American and global community. Approximately 18,000 students are currently enrolled in its various schools and divisions. Touro has 35 campuses and locations in New York, California, Nevada, Illinois, Berlin, Jerusalem and Moscow. New York Medical College; Touro University California and Touro University Nevada; Touro University Worldwide and its Touro College Los Angeles division; as well as Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. are separately accredited institutions within the Touro College and University System. For further information on Touro College, please go to: