FIT Program Provides Critical Medical Support For Former Inmates

Jun 13, 2018

Jessica Romine (right) was recently released from jail and is receiving assistance through a partnership with Tommy Green (left) that was established by the North Carolina Formerly Incarcerated Transition program, or NCFIT, led by Dr. Evan Ashkin (center).
Credit Gabriella Bulgarelli / WUNC

While incarcerated it is a constitutional right for inmates to receive medical care. But what happens when inmates are released and no longer have access to health services? The reality is they often go without medication or treatment. Considering prisons have become the largest mental healthcare providers in America, it is in the interest of public safety to remedy that gap in coverage.

Dr. Evan Ashkin is a professor of family medicine at the University of North Carolina’s School of Medicine. While working in low-income health care he observed these gaps and created his own solution. He is now the director of the Formerly Incarcerated Transition (FIT) program which provides funds for healthcare as well as resources for jobs, education and integrating back into society. Modeled after a successful program in San Francisco, Ashkin pairs former inmates with recently released inmates. Together they work to lower the recidivism rate.

Dr. Ashkin joins Frank Stasio to talk about FIT and what inspired it. He is joined by Jessica Romine who was recently released from jail, joined the FIT program and is finally getting the support she needs. Tommy Green works for FIT, but before that he spent 11 years and 8 months in prison. Green is Romine’s community health worker.