Session: Creating New Anchors: Social Work's Role in Transforming the Criminal Legal System (Society for Social Work and Research 24th Annual Conference - Reducing Racial and Economic Inequality)

62 Creating New Anchors: Social Work's Role in Transforming the Criminal Legal System

Friday, January 17, 2020: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Marquis BR Salon 14, ML 2 (Marriott Marquis Washington DC)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice (C&CJ)
Sophia Sarantakos, MSW, LCSW, University of Chicago, Shannon Sliva, PhD, University of Denver, Erin Kerrison, PhD, University of California, Berkeley and Mark Plassmeyer, MSW, University of Denver
The discourse around the path forward from mass criminalization, either through system reform or system transformation, has been robust, but it mainly occurs outside the academy. This roundtable aims to bring this critical discussion to social work academia and engage criminal legal system (CLS)-focused scholars in conversations and exercises interrogating the philosophical underpinnings of our work. This discussion has important implications for scholarship at the intersection of social work, the CLS, and the decarceration movement.

The panelists seek to engage colleagues in honest conversation about whether the questions we ask serve to uphold the prison industrial complex or help to dismantle it. Content will include: (1) how restorative justice, transformative justice, decriminalization, legalization, reform, and prison abolition are conceptualized and distinguished, (2) how these concepts manifest in social work research, (3) their relationship to social work values and ethics, and (4) what this means moving forward.

Roundtable participants will engage in facilitated collaborative dialogue to examine the assumptions of the CLS and social work's role within it. Presenters will guide participants in thought work designed to imagine new possibilities for the transformation of the CLS. This includes an analysis of how social work scholars can move past simple reforms, and radically upend the ways of knowing and doing research that the academy has long valued.

S. Sarantakos is a doctoral candidate at the University of Chicago's School of Social Service Administration. Her work focuses on the discretionary decision-making processes of local prosecutors and the policy adjustments that can be made to prosecutorial guidelines to help maximize this crucial actor's role in decarceration. Sophia is an abolitionist and believer in transformative justice, and will be addressing the roundtable's content from these perspectives.

S. Sliva is an Assistant Professor at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. Her research examines the determinants and impacts of collaborative and restorative justice policies in Colorado and nationally. She teaches and practices restorative approaches to healing the harms caused by both crime and incarceration.

E. Kerrison is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Welfare at the University of California, Berkeley. Through varied stakeholder partnerships, her mixed-method research agenda investigates the impact that compounded structural disadvantage and state supervision has on service delivery, substance abuse, violence and other health outcomes for individuals and communities marked by criminal justice intervention.

M. Plassmeyer is an Assistant Professor at the University of Arkansas School of Social Work. His research focuses on policies that impact the lives of people with criminal histories generally, with a focus on people with criminal drug records. Mark looks to spark dialogue and action among social workers around harnessing current efforts to decriminalize and/or legalize illicit substances as tools for broader social, economic, and civic inclusion.

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