How can public health workers — including health inspectors, housing code enforcement officers, and any public official whose work affects the public’s health — ensure that community members follow health-promoting laws and policies?
In enforcing laws and policies that protect the public’s health, governments often rely on punitive measures to deter violations. Such punishments range from fines and license revocation to injunctions and civil and criminal proceedings. Without enforcement, public health laws and policies would never produce their intended effect. Yet enforcement actions that do not consider existing injustices and inequities may harm communities that experience system discrimination.
Equitable enforcement is a process of ensuring compliance with law and policy that considers and minimizes harms to people affected by health inequities. When properly implemented, equitable enforcement can hold wrongdoers accountable while protecting the health and well-being of individuals and the wider community. ChangeLab Solutions has developed a suite of resources to help policymakers incorporate equitable enforcement principles and practices into their work.