The purpose of the social work and criminal justice web site is to promote social work research and teaching in the area of criminal justice, broadly defined. We do this by: promoting networking among social work academics who do research or teach in criminal justice via a directory of interest and contact information; providing teaching resources for social work faculty interested in teaching about criminal justice; sharing research findings via publications and presentation materials; and providing information on funding opportunities applicable to criminal justice and social work research.
Why Should Social Work Care About Criminal Justice?
Social work is a profession dedicated to social justice and to service and empowerment of vulnerable populations. Individuals who are involved with the criminal justice system are among some of our most vulnerable citizens, often struggling with poverty, addiction, mental illness, discrimination, and service systems that create barriers to resources. Currently it is estimated that one in 31 adults in the United States is under some form of criminal justice control and one in 100 adults (2.3 million) are incarcerated (Pew Charitable Trust, 2009). Estimates indicate that 1 in 3 Black males and 1 in 6 Latinos will be incarcerated in their lifetime (Bonczar, 2003).
As a result we cannot think that social work and criminal justice is a specialty or "boutique" area. The clients we serve, the subjects in our research, the communities we support, all will somehow be impacted by the criminal justice system.
Social workers are needed to provide services to justice-involved individuals, to develop and evaluate new interventions and to collaborate with the criminal justice system and other community systems in order to maximize the chances that individuals who are or have been justice-involved can live successfully in the community.