Correctional facilities, such as prisons and jails, are required by law to provide medical care to inmates. Part of that medical care includes access to prescription medication, which is why correctional facilities have pharmacies. In this article, we’ll explore why correctional facilities have pharmacies and the importance of these facilities in providing medical care to inmates.

The Role of Pharmacies in Correctional Facilities

The primary role of a pharmacy in a correctional facility is to provide medication to inmates who require it. This includes prescription medications for chronic conditions, such as diabetes and hypertension, as well as medications for acute illnesses and injuries.

Correctional facility pharmacies are typically staffed by licensed pharmacists who work in conjunction with the facility’s medical staff to ensure that inmates receive the appropriate medication and dosage. The pharmacy also maintains records of medications dispensed to inmates, which is crucial for maintaining accurate medical records and ensuring that inmates receive continuity of care.

Benefits of Having a Pharmacy in Correctional Facilities

Having a pharmacy in a correctional facility provides several benefits, both for inmates and for the facility itself. Here are some of the key benefits:

Improved Health Outcomes: By providing access to medication, correctional facilities can help manage chronic conditions and prevent acute illnesses from becoming more severe.

Increased Safety: By having a licensed pharmacist on staff, the facility can ensure that medications are dispensed safely and accurately.

Cost Savings: Correctional facilities that have pharmacies can save money by purchasing medications in bulk and reducing the need to transport inmates to outside medical facilities for medication.

Legal Compliance: Correctional facilities are legally required to provide adequate medical care to inmates. Having a pharmacy on site helps ensure that inmates receive the medication they need in a timely manner.

Challenges of Running a Pharmacy in a Correctional Facility

Running a pharmacy in a correctional facility does come with its challenges. Some of the common challenges include:

Limited Resources: Correctional facilities often have limited resources, including staff and medical equipment, which can impact the quality of care provided to inmates.

Security Concerns: Pharmacies in correctional facilities must be secured to prevent theft and diversion of medications.

Communication: Communication between healthcare providers, correctional officers, and inmates can be challenging, leading to delays in care and misunderstandings.


In summary, correctional facilities have pharmacies to ensure that inmates receive the medication they need to manage chronic conditions, treat acute illnesses and injuries, and maintain their overall health. Having a pharmacy on site provides several benefits, including improved health outcomes, increased safety, cost savings, and legal compliance. While there are challenges associated with running a pharmacy in a correctional facility, it’s an essential component of providing adequate medical care to inmates.