Session: Multi-Method Analyses of Criminal Justice Interventions and Their Potential for Decarceration (Society for Social Work and Research 23rd Annual Conference - Ending Gender Based, Family and Community Violence)

03 Multi-Method Analyses of Criminal Justice Interventions and Their Potential for Decarceration

Thursday, January 17, 2019: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
Golden Gate 8, Lobby Level (Hilton San Francisco)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice (C&CJ)
Symposium Organizer:
Kathryn Bocanegra, MSW, University of Chicago
In 2016 the AASWSW announced Promote Smart Decarceration as one of the Grand Challenges of the professional field. Smart Decarceration's mission is to “build social capacity to reduce incarceration rates in ways that are effective, sustainable, and socially just”. The following symposium responds to the ‘call to action' initiated by this grand challenge in its examination of criminal justice interventions designed to reduce incarcerated populations, redress disparities, and maximize public safety. Additionally, this symposium addresses the overarching theme of the SSWR 2019 conference by providing a multi-method critical analysis of gender, family, community, and institutional violence within the criminal justice system.

The four papers in this symposium explore a range of criminal justice interventions: policing, deferred prosecution, mental health courts, and probation. Each panelist presents analyses examining racial, gender, economic, behavioral, and spatial-level disparities in the administration of the aforementioned interventions. Police practices have been thrust into national scrutiny following the broadcast of police-inflicted homicides such as Decynthia Clements, Reika Boyd, Lacquan McDonald, Michael Brown, and Freddy Gray. Public discourse and academic investigation on improving police-community relationships cite how certain communities are ‘over-policed' and as a result disproportionately represented within penal institutions. This symposium examines policing practices and how they impact transgender adults drawing from a sample of 300 young transgender women in Chicago and Boston.

Deferred prosecution programs offer an upstream diversion from deeper criminal justice involvement wherein participants can have their case dismissed and avoid the collateral consequences of a formal conviction. The second paper in this symposium examines data on over 7,000 participants in three deferred prosecution programs. Program completion and case dismissal rates indicate that these programs may hold significant promise for upstream diversion, and point to the need to target particular groups for enhanced program retention.

Mental health courts are a form of specialty courts organized with the intention of promoting collaboration from criminal justice and mental health practitioners. The courts generally process cases of nonviolent offenders with a diagnosed mental illness and provide coordinated services to improve criminal justice outcomes and overall wellbeing of the client. This symposium provides a critical analysis using ethnographic fieldwork on how risk is conceptualized within such settings and the implications for legal proceedings and quality of life outcomes for those involved.

Finally, probation in Cook County, Illinois is explored through a spatial analysis of a 10-year data-set including all closed felony and misdemeanor-level cases. Probation is typically viewed as a cost-effective alternative to incarceration that allows for the individual to stay in community. Despite the community-centered administration of probation, the role of community context in predicting probation outcomes has yet to be examined.

The four papers in this symposium employ a variety of methodological approaches to better understand to what extent a range of criminal justice interventions contribute to more socially just outcomes. The symposium discusses implications for such interventions for both social work practice and public policy. The implications of such interventions are explored across ecological dimensions, ranging from individual-level effects to neighborhood-level effects.

* noted as presenting author
Examining Case Dismissal and Re-Offense Rates in Deferred Prosecution Programs
Matthew Epperson, PhD, University of Chicago; Sadiq Patel, MSW, University of Chicago; Leon Sawh, MPH, University of Chicago; Sophia Sarantakos, MSW, University of Chicago; Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis; Annie Grier, Florida State University
Indicators of Social and Structural Marginalization Associated with Arrest Among Young Transgender Women
Jane Hereth, MSW, University of Chicago; Lisa Kuhns, PhD, Lurie Children's Hospital; Sari Reisner, ScD, Harvard University; Matthew Mimiaga, ScD, Brown University; Robert Garofalo, MD MPH, Northwestern University
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