This symposium will feature four studies. These studies examine how housing insecurity may act as a risk factor for criminal justice entry and re-entry, how housing insecurity may differentially affect justice-involved populations, and how social workers might address housing needs, curb justice-involvement, and promote wellbeing. Using a variety of study designs (longitudinal, cross-sectional, and intervention pilot), these researchers find (1) housing eviction is a risk factor for incurring a criminal charge, above and beyond other socioeconomic and psychosocial risk factors; (2) housing instability and homelessness are risk factors for recidivism, even after controlling for criminal risk factors and demographic characteristics; (3) housing instability is associated with having any criminal record and, for the most part, is not unique to those with drug records; and (4), interventions that combine housing with wrap-around services may improve psychosocial and criminal justice outcomes for those under community supervision.
Panelists will also discuss the important implications of their findings for social work research and practice. Together, their work implies that housing status and stability are components of a holistic understanding of justice involvement. Their work also supports direct practice and policy interventions that address housing instability for individuals and communities in order to reduce justice involvement. Ultimately, these findings highlight the unique capacity for social workers, who straddle criminal justice- and social welfare systems and intervene at micro- and macro levels, to promote smart decarceration.