Professor Nemesia Kelly

Concentration Chair, Professor Nemesia Kelly


“The Health Equity & Criminal Justice (HECJ) Public Health track will open your eyes. ….I found it easy to see how each facet was closely linked with public health. The professors foster a safe environment for discussion and learning. The guest lecturers were absolutely outstanding. I hope to use what I learned to increase advocacy among my fellow students and colleagues, support policy change, and develop intervention programs. This track will prepare you for serving our diverse communities.”

-Angela DuTremaine, Joint Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies/Master of Public Health Candidate, Class of 2021

“As a Vallejo Community Member & Indigenous Social Justice Activist, I truly enjoyed getting to meet some Touro Students and Community Members and sharing our stories, our opinions, our frustrations and our grief. My heart is filled with hope for the future that we can truly transform our Justice System. Thank you all for giving me the privilege of being a part of this Class.”   

-Kim DeOcampo, Tuolumne Mewuk Nation

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Health Equity and Criminal Justice is a new concentration in the Public Health Program designed to address the impact of criminal justice involvement and incarceration on the health of individuals, families and communities. Students will gain an understanding of the needs of these populations through field study and specialized courses that include PBHC 633: Criminal Justice and Public Health and PBHC 634: Criminal Justice Law and Advocacy.  

Touro University California’s MPH Program is the first graduate program, accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health (CEPH) to offer an MPH concentration in health equity and criminal justice (HECJ). This new concentration focuses on the intersection of health and the U.S. justice system. Framed within core public health concepts, the HECJ Concentration addresses the impacts of criminal justice involvement and incarceration on individuals, families and communities and students are provided with a specialized curriculum centered on the criminal justice system, reentry and recidivism, and social and community impacts of incarceration. 

The main objectives of the HECJ Concentration are to:

  • Contribute to the expansion of health-related research and policy in the promotion of social justice and health equity across various sectors.

  • Train well-prepared graduates to advocate for and address the needs of justice system involved populations.

  • Provide MPH students with clinical training the public health knowledge and the skills needed for practitioners to effectively and efficiently provide medical care for both incarcerated and post-release populations.


The HECJ Concentration is comprised of the following courses (Total: 10 units):

  • Criminal Justice and Public Health (3 units)

  • Criminal Justice Law & Advocacy (3 units)

  • Program Evaluation and Needs Assessment (3 units)

  • Research Methodology (1 unit)                               

The HECJ Concentration requires 42 units. In addition to the 10 units of concentration courses listed above, students must complete 15 units of core public health courses (Biostatistics, Epidemiology, Health Policy and Management, Environmental Health, and Behavioral and Social Aspects of Public Health), 10 units of breadth courses, and 7 units of coursework that comprise the Culminating Experience. 

Global Health Concentration MPH Academic Planning Form:

Culminating Experience

After completing 10 units of breadth courses, Independent MPH students proceed to their culminating experience, comprised of the Public Health Field Study course (400 hours/6 units) and the Capstone course or Certified in Public Health (CPH) Exam and Course (1 unit). Students in the Joint Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies (MSPAS)/MPH, the Doctor of Osteopathic/MPH (DO/MPH), and Doctor of Pharmacy/MPH (PharmD/MPH) programs are eligible for the Field Study  once they have completed 25 units of core and concentration courses and are required to complete a 6-week field study (equivalent to 200+ hours). 

The purpose of the Public Health Field Study is for students to apply and integrate the skills and knowledge they acquire during their graduate didactic coursework, translating that experience to programs, policy development, educational campaigns, and research that benefit communities. The required field study affords students the opportunity to apply skills and knowledge acquired during didactic coursework - translating that experience to programs, policy development, educational campaigns, and research that benefit communities that have been impacted by incarceration. HECJ Concentration students conduct their field studies at sites at either a California correctional facility or with community-based organizations serving people with a history of incarceration, their families, and communities, which include but are not limited to: the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, La Clinica de La Raza Transitions Clinic, Health Education Council Clinic, Centerforce, Solano County Jail Services, and Roots Community Health.

Health Equity & Criminal Justice Faculty: 

Chair: Nemesia Kelly, MPH

Health impacts of wrongful conviction and incarceration; qualitative research on the health and well-being of exonerees; carceral and reentry health; public health impacts of mass incarceration; criminal justice policy reform and advocacy, police violence as a public health issue; collateral consequences of incarceration; the school to prison nexus. 

Gayle Cummings, PsyD, MPH

Research and evaluation focused on the social determinants of health and health inequities; impact of criminal justice policies on community health; public health impacts of wrongful conviction and exoneration; the collateral consequences of justice system involvement.

Carly Strouse, DrPH, MPH

Program evaluation of medical care programs for the formerly incarcerated; impact of neighborhoods on maternal and child health outcomes; community based participatory and mixed methods research; leadership development; cross-sector collaboration to advance health equity. 

Related Research Projects:

As a related endeavor of the Program's new concentration, the Public Health Program developed the California Exoneree Health and Well-Being (CEHW) Project to study the current state of physical, mental, and emotional health among California exonerees and their needs for immediate and long-term support. The CEHW Project is a joint collaboration with Exonerated Nation, a non-profit organization based in Oakland, California whose mission is to meet the immediate needs of exonerees in California. In Fall 2017, the Project received a grant from the TUC Intramural Research Award Program. From April 2 to May 12, 2018, the CEHW research team conducted 12 in-person key informant interviews with California exonerees to understand their health status and needs for immediate and long-term support. The information gathered will be used to design a quantitative survey for a future study of California exonerees regarding their health, well-being and any unmet needs. Learn more