Criminal Behaviors as Health Behaviors: The Intersections Between Nursing and Criminology

Phyllis Raynor, Medical College of Georgia

Health has been commonly represented as the absence of disease. However more recent definitions of health reflect the idea that health is more about process and less about product. People are not "healthy" nor are they "unhealthy," rather people are in continual processes that either support the goal of being and becoming healthy, or they are involved in processes that do not support and/or sustain aspects of health for themselves, their families and their communities. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate how criminal behaviors can be conceptualized as behaviors that negatively affect the processes of being and becoming healthy. It will be argued, then, that criminal behaviors are functionally unhealthy behaviors. Criminal behaviors (conceptualized as unhealthy) thus increase individuals', families' and communities' vulnerability to poor health outcomes. It has been argued that nursing is the alleviation of vulnerability in the human health experience. Therefore, nursing interventions and strategies aimed towards improving the processes of health for individuals, families and communities will also contribute to the processes involved in desistance from criminal behaviors. This intersection between nursing knowledge and practice with criminology and the criminal justice system will be discussed.

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Updated 05/20/2006