Social workers should know their role in reducing recidivism due to the considerable rate of imprisonments experience globally. According to Glaze and Parks (2011), U.S. has the greatest rate of confinements than any other nation. It is comprehended that among this population, 95% are ultimately released to the societies with different level of preparation. Therefore, different studies and practice have stirred strong drive to have re-entry strategies and rehabilitation programs to help offenders in prosperous re-entry to the community while reducing recidivism. According to Paulson (2013), recidivism can be described as an individual's deterioration into his past conduct, after undergoing some form of interventions or sanctions needed due to his previous crime. Different surveys such as that conducted by Glaze and Parks (2011), revealed that 43% of population released from federal prisons between 2004 and 2007 returned to jail. Therefore, this survey will review previous literature to comprehend the role of social work in reducing recidivism and aiding ex-offenders in successful reentry to the community as the starting point to search for an appropriate solution which will help in reducing the high levels of recidivism.
According to Paulson (2013), the most crucial role that social workers assume in reducing recidivism and aiding offender reentry in the community is upholding their values and ethics. In most cases, social workers are associated with a deep belief in the worth and dignity of every individual as well as the true value that every individual needs help and the right to live. Therefore, social workers have confidence in social justice for every individual, not only for that individual who can afford justice but also for everyone. Thus, as Paulson (2013), revealed, social workers particularly those positioned in prisons are visitors of the correctional department and in most cases do not have authority on a matter concerning prison life logistics which depends on the custodial and the relation existing between departments. He reviewed various articles where he discovered that in 2004 there was approximately 93,000 correctional counselor occupation occupied. He also discovered that this occupation position would increase by 9-17% an estimation which would be seen by 2014 (Paulson, 2013). However, correctional counselor according to his research denotes to social workers as well as parole officers, mental health, and chemical dependency workers. Therefore, social work, particularly in the correctional settings and the criminal justice system, have a distinct set of competencies and perspectives which aid serve people dealing with recidivism.
Mann, Bond, and Powitzky (2011), research described a significant requirement for services and programming provided by skilled social workers. Particular responsibilities of social workers such as those within the correctional context may differ from state to state in the United States and various departments. For instance, in their article, Mann, Bond, and Powitzky (2011) illustrate the role of social work at Oklahoma State Penitentiary and Joseph Harp Correctional Center. They described the role of social workers as gathering information and aiding the offender with processes such as the application of social security disability, organizing for services received after they were discharged such as offering them with housewares commodities, bus passes, and basic commodities as well as transitional housing. Majority of offenders leave jail with a considerable amount of debt because of restitution, fines, and bills. Thus, Mann, B., Bond, D., & Powitzky, R. J. (2011), found that as a way to reducing recidivism, the significance of social work may be to formulate strategies to aid ex-offenders to reduce these debts. For example, social workers can aid offenders in gaining access to community-based programs which help them overcome the problem of substance or mental health. Additionally, assessment and comprehension of risk factors linked to an offender is a component of release planning and community-based programming. Therefore, it is significant to learn that, via evaluation of management of risks, social workers facilitate in decreasing recidivism by making sure appropriate care and supervision are accessible by every ex-offender.
Paulson (2013), stated that social workers who perform within community-based programs execute the same responsibility just like those who perform with jails. However, community-based programs' social workers are molded to address the requirements of ex-offenders. Mann Bond and Powitzky (2011), argued that depending on requirements of ex-offenders, professionals and community-based programs perform to support them, for instance, through searching for housing, acquiring various forms of state aid, particularly food and medical among other assistance they may require. From their research, they discovered that the predominant aim of social workers particularly in the community-centered program is aiding ex-offenders, for instance, in activities which develop contexts which are conducive to maintain independent living. This shows that community-centered programs are performing to attend to clients where they are which denotes that social worker picks up from where prisons leave ex-offenders. It is significant to learn from their research that reentering the community may have a considerable shock for ex-offenders which depends on the quantity of time an individual has been imprisoned. Therefore, it emerged from their research that social workers among other professions within community-centered programs ought to be aware of the emotional and psychological problems an individual may have by entire altering the environment of an individual. This is because the way of life which an average individual is familiar with may be hard particularly for individuals who have been imprisoned for a long duration. Activities such as using computers and mobile phones may be new and for ex-offenders to adjust to such a novel life, it may be scary and difficult. Therefore, social workers in community-based programs should assess every aspect of individual life by integrating an individual in a tailor programs and services as well as environment perspective which will offer effective support which hinders prosperous community reentry and decrease recidivism.
It is evident from the readings that the role of social work in the correctional structure varies across the departments, facilities, and states as well as outside and inside prison walls. Additionally, they may be wide or specific which depends on the agency. However, the social work values and ethics are held constant which are aspects which join social workers together. This is because social workers outside and inside prison may share the same objectives since they are interventions providers and advocates for ex-offenders as vulnerable cluster. Unlike other professionals, social workers integrate all characteristics of an individuals' life, and they can also be part of collaboration and coordination to address the requirements of a client. Social workers take a crucial role as resource identifiers and connectors. Therefore, social workers should utilize the person in environment perspective to assess and aid execute essential programs and supports to offer effective interventions and services to ex-offenders
Despite understanding emotional and psychological problems of different ex-offenders, social workers still need to recognize other challenges that these individuals experience after release to the community. These challenges may be crucial while providing clients with the required interventions or help to ensure successful reentry to the community. Such challenges may be discovered both from social worker perspectives such as ethical issues and ex-offender perspectives, for instance, homelessness. Thus, by combining knowledge learned from the readings and understanding emotional and psychological problems as well as other challenges affecting different ex-offenders, social workers may be facilitated in successful ensuring ex-offender reentry in the community and in reducing the overall recidivism
Glaze, L. E., & Parks, E. (2011). Correctional populations in the United States, 2011. Population, 6(7), 8.
Mann, B., Bond, D., & Powitzky, R. J. (2011). Collaborating for success in interagency correctional mental health reentry. Corrections Today, 73(5), 30-33.
Paulson, P. (2013). The Role of Community Based Programs in Reducing Recidivism in Ex-Offenders.
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