Sunday, January 16, 2022: 11:30 AM-1:00 PM
Independence BR B, ML 4 (Marriott Marquis Washington, DC)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Jenny Afkinich, PhD, University of Maryland at Baltimore
Ashley Jackson, MSW, Washington University in Saint Louis
Mass incarceration remains a persistent and significant problem in the United States, and the burden falls disproportionately on those who already face a multitude of oppressions (e.g., people of color, economically disadvantaged people, and people with serious mental illness). Social work scholars have prioritized Promoting Smart Decarceration as a Grand Challenge for the profession. In keeping with the theme of this year's conference, promoting smart decarceration is an urgent racial, social, and political justice imperative. Smart decarceration requires high quality interventions designed to prevent incarceration and a workforce dedicated to meeting the needs of people who are or may become incarcerated to ensure they will successfully remain in or return to their home communities. This symposium is composed of three presentations. The first panelist will present the findings of in-depth interviews with national leaders, state level directors, and local implementers of Police Assisted Diversion Programs across the country. These programs aim to reduce the number of people who are arrested and booked while also connecting them to resources in their communities. The second panelist will present a participatory based study conducted with prosecutors who worked alongside researchers to develop a framework for prosecution and public health. They identified the elements and outcomes necessary for their jurisdictions to approach prosecution and prosecutorial diversion from a public health perspective. The third panelist will present an exploratory survey study of criminal justice practitioners in correctional facilities. The participants described a need for additional behavioral health supports within facilities as well as increased coordination with community resources to help maintain reentry successfully. The symposium's discussant will facilitate a discussion among panelists and attendees, bringing with her over a decade of experience in research and program development in a variety of criminal legal system areas including providing support to communities across the country addressing public safety issues, mixed-methods research on youth experiences while incarcerated and during their transition back into the community, and the impact of police contact on youth and families in New York City. She currently studies historical and contemporary patterns of police violence and its effects on psychological well-being and racial socialization among communities of color. The three studies presented in this symposium explore the myriad ways that community and criminal legal system actors can influence the experiences and outcomes of people who come into contact with them. These studies address every phase of the criminal legal system from first police contact through incarceration. Through primary data collection, the studies all report on the beliefs, experiences, and ideas of people currently employed in criminal legal system roles. The people interviewed and surveyed in these studies are practitioners who enact policy decisions and decision-makers who have the power to promote smart decarceration directly. The symposium will end with a discussion of the implications of these studies and ideas for further research.
* noted as presenting author
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