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Center for Health Justice (formerly, CorrectHELP) is a California-based 501 (c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering people affected by incarceration and HIV to make healthier choices and advocating for the elimination of disparities between prisoner health and public health.
Founded in 2000 by advocates with over 20 years of experience in the field, the Corrections HIV Education & Law Project (CorrectHELP) was the result of civil rights attorney Mary Sylla's realization that HIV+ prisoners in Los Angeles and California as a whole were underserved by existing AIDS service groups, prisoner advocacy, and public health organizations. To address this problem, and building on her strong relationship with executives at the LA Sheriff's Department developed during her years at AIDS Project Los Angeles and the ACLU of Southern California, Mary founded a non-profit project of the Tides Center, to focus on the needs of HIV+ prisoners in California.
Originally envisioned as an education and civil rights project, CorrectHELP conveyed the goal of the organization's founder to work collaboratively and, whenever possible, help to improve conditions for HIV+ prisoners.
Six years later, the organization has evolved into a trusted HIV service provider in correctional facilities and a national thought leader on HIV corrections issues, including the provision of condoms to prisoners. Although originally focused on "HIV Education & Law," CorrectHELP's work grew to address other infectious diseases such as Hepatitis. During this period, CorrectHELP also became an independent legal non-profit corporation, and ceased being just a "project." At that time the Board decided a name change was in order, held a retreat, did some brainstorming, and "Center for Health Justice" was born. With this new name, we have the opportunity to coin a phrase and start a movement, following in the footsteps of Environmental Justice activists. "Health Justice" means recognizing that prisoner health IS public health, and working to eliminate health disparities between prisoners and the communities in which we all live.
Center for Health Justice is a small and highly efficient organization with a staff of 13 and a decent sized budget, funded by private foundations, corporations and city and county government contracts. Staff represent the wide range of individuals affected by HIV and incarceration, and Center for Health Justice is committed to both representing and meeting the needs of an exceptionally diverse client population. Center for Health Justice is in an active growth phase, both programmatically and geographically, and is at the absolute forefront of these issues.