Saturday, January 14, 2023: 8:00 AM-9:30 AM
Laveen A, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
Cluster: Crime and Criminal Justice
Stephanie Kennedy, PhD, Florida State University
Jennifer Kenney, PhD, California State University, Sacramento
Nearly 13 million youth and adults cycle into and out of incarceration each year across the United States with significant negative public health and social justice consequences. Individuals who cycle into and out of incarceration disproportionately experience mental health and substance use disorder crises, poverty, food insecurity, housing instability, and homelessness. Youth involved in the criminal justice system disproportionately experience the incarceration of a parent. Although justice system-involved youth and adults experience a range of adversity, for decades the field has focused on preventing recidivism rather than on identifying methods for enhancing prevention, intervention, and reentry services to help individuals thrive. This symposium focuses on generating an alternative framework of post-incarceration efforts, one that does not rely on recidivism as the measure of success but instead centers building community stability and other social factors known to be central to successful decarceration efforts (e.g., stable housing, food security, access to effective behavioral/mental health services, and quality education). The ultimate goal of the symposium is to use data to suggest avenues for the creation of data-driven policy and practice solutions to address the inequities many justice-involved individuals experience and stop the churn of incarceration, release, and reincarceration for both youth and adults.
Symposium members present empirical evidence on the needs of justice-involved youth and identify data-driven methods for improving community stability, amplifying well-being, and preventing incarceration for justice-involved youth and adults. Presenters detail findings from: 1) a qualitative prevention focused study that explores the facilitators and barriers to law enforcement officers use of community-based crisis stabilization units as an alternative to arrest for individuals experiencing behavioral health crises; 2) a 10-year longitudinal analysis of the intersection of mental health and substance use disorders, academic performance, and engagement in future criminal behavior among justice-involved youth; 3) an analysis examining the relationships between parental incarceration, food insecurity, and SNAP benefits for households impacted by incarceration; and 4) a longitudinal reentry study exploring where and with whom individuals lived and whether they were homeless from 2-weeks to 14-months post-release. Implications for social work research and practice include shifting away from a sole focus on criminal recidivism to a more comprehensive understanding of how to amplify community-based prevention, behavioral health, and reentry services to improve community stability and well-being for justice-involved youth and adults. Social work should engage in data-driven policy and practice reforms to build solutions to enhance well-being among disadvantaged youth and adults to deflect individuals away from criminal justice system involvement and help individuals to thrive.
* noted as presenting author