Session: Ameliorating Racial and Economic Inequality By Shifting the Criminal Justice System Toward a Well-Being Focus (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

34 Ameliorating Racial and Economic Inequality By Shifting the Criminal Justice System Toward a Well-Being Focus

Thursday, January 16, 2020: 3:15 PM-4:45 PM
Independence BR A, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice (C&CJ)
Carrie Pettus-Davis, PhD, Florida State University, Tanya Renn, PhD, Washington University in Saint Louis, Stephanie Kennedy, PhD, Florida State University, Christopher Veeh, PhD, University of Iowa and Stephen Tripodi, PhD, Florida State University
The US is transitioning from an era of mass incarceration to an era of smart decarceration. Smart decarceration will have occurred when effective, sustainable, and socially just criminal justice strategies result in a substantially reduced criminal justice-involved population. To achieve this goal, a shift away from prominent, deficits-oriented conceptual frameworks guiding criminal justice practices is necessary. This roundtable will present applied research examples of a new conceptual framework to support the development, design, implementation, and assessment of innovative criminal justice interventions designed to increase well-being among the millions of individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system every year. We propose the Well-Being Development Model (WBDM) as a new conceptual framework to guide the next generation of criminal justice approaches. We focus on psychosocial well-being and define well-being as a state of satisfying and productive engagement with one's life and the realization of one's full psychological, social, and occupational potential. In contrast to prominent criminal justice models guiding current policies and practices, the WBDM is articulated as a framework by which to increase the likelihood that individuals are diverted from the criminal justice system after initial contact, and speed the exit of justice-involved individuals from the criminal justice system. The WBDM aims to re-orient criminal justice toward taking approaches that build individuals' capacity to reach their full human potential while simultaneously addressing the common problems and barriers that often compromise their best efforts to achieve success. This roundtable session will begin a dialogue about how a shift toward well-being in the criminal justice system is possible in the emerging era of smart decarceration. Roundtable members will present empirical evidence on how the WBDM is being implemented and tested in four critical areas across the criminal justice system: 1) results from a study with prosecutors-arguably the most crucial decision-makers in the criminal justice system-to divert individuals away from conviction and incarceration and toward community supports capable of promoting well-being, with an emphasis on empirical results and a description of how prosecutors respond to well-being approaches; 2) findings from a study assessing opioid use among formerly incarcerated adults and how well-being relates to their post-release success; 3) results from a comprehensive measurement study of well-being designed to help shift away from using recidivism as the primary or sole outcome of interest to describe success or failure among formerly incarcerated individuals; 4) findings from a study examining racial bias in risk assessments and how well-being can be used to reduce racial disparities in the level-of-risk construct. Our goal is to use existing empirical research on the WBDM to spark discussion on how to shift the field of criminal justice and criminal justice research away from a deficits-oriented paradigm and towards a focus on developing well-being. The four studies represent front-end diversion work as well as reentry intervention. Results provide empirical support for the feasibility and utility of this approach and are offered to catalyze an interactive dialogue on expanding the WBDM into other facets of the criminal justice system.
See more of: Roundtables