Mission & Ethics Statement


The mission of the American Correctional Health Services Association (ACHSA) is to serve as an effective forum for current issues and needs confronting correctional health care. We provide education, skill development, and support for personnel, organizations, and decision-makers involved in correctional health services. We strive to contribute to a sense of community among correctional health providers and to create positive changes in health for detained and incarcerated individuals.

Statement of Ethics



Correctional health professionals are obligated to respect human dignity and act in ways that merit trust and prevent harm. They must ensure autonomy in decisions about their inmate patients and promote a safe environment.


The correctional health professional should:

  • Evaluate the inmate as a patient or client in each and every health care encounter.
  • Render medical treatment only when it is justified by an accepted medical diagnosis. Treatment and invasive procedures shall be rendered after informed consent.
  • Afford inmates the right to refuse care and treatment. Involuntary treatment shall be reserved for emergency situations in which there is grave disability and immediate threat of danger to the inmate or others.
  • Provide sound privacy during health services in all cases and sight privacy whenever possible.
  • Provide health care to all inmates regardless of custody status.
  • Identify themselves to their patients and not represent themselves as other than their professional license or certification permits.
  • Collect and analyze specimens only for diagnostic testing based on sound medical principles.
  • Perform body cavity searches only after training in proper techniques and when they are not in a patient-provider relationship with the inmate.
  • Not be involved in any aspect of execution of the death penalty.
  • Ensure that all medical information is confidential and health care records are maintained and transported in a confidential manner.
  • Honor custody functions but not participate in such activities as escorting inmates, forced transfers, security supervision, strip searches or witnessing use of force.
  • Undertake biomedical research on prisoners only when the research methods meet all requirements for experimentation on human subjects and individual prisoners or prison populations are expected to derive benefits from the results of the research.