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Article

Racism and Accountable Policing for Black Adults in the United States  

Robert O. Motley Jr. and Christopher Baidoo

Racism is a public health concern for Black adults in the United States given its prevalence and association with adverse health outcomes for this population. The frequency of high-profile cases involving police use of gratuitous violence against Black adults has raised concerns regarding racially discriminatory law enforcement practices. In this article, racism is defined and a discussion is offered on its impact on the health and well-being of Black adults in the United States; the intersection of racism and policing; contemporary racialized policing practices; emerging evidence on prevalence rates for exposure (direct and indirect) to perceived racism-based police violence and associated mental and behavioral health outcomes; and police accountability through executive, legislative, legal, and other remedies.

Article

Police Social Work  

Rosemary Alamo and Rick Ornelas

Police social workers are professionally trained social workers or individuals with related academic degrees employed within police departments or social service agencies who receive referrals primarily from police officers. Their primary functions are to provide direct services such as crisis counseling and mediation to individuals and families experiencing social problems such as mental illness, alcohol and substance use and abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse, among others. Additional functions of police social workers are mezzo and macro related and include training police officers in stress management, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child abuse; providing consultation and counseling to police officers and their families; program planning, development, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation; grant writing; legislative advocacy; and community and organizational needs assessment. Essentially, police social workers influence laws, legislation, policies, and practices that impact individuals, families, groups, law enforcement, organizations, and communities.

Article

Racial Profiling and Policing Black Communities  

Joshua Kirven

Strained police-community relations are not new to distressed and black communities. However, recent decades of modern-day policing have become a challenging, stressful job for officers in terms of safety and social order, job performance, and being recorded (often on cell phones) and quickly judged by the public. This article looks at racial profiling, implicit bias, and how the heavy hand of order-maintenance policing is used to the detriment of black communities, especially black males. The relevance of contact theory will be discussed in terms of its relevance for reaching mutual ground between black males and police officers. This article offers practical strategies for (a) social workers (community practitioners), (b) black males and citizens of color , and ( c) police officers themselves. For officers specifically, this potential awareness can lead to healthier, neutral experiences with black males leading to positive policing of black communities.

Article

Treger, Harvey  

George T. Patterson

Harvey Treger (1924–2016) was a pioneer in the social work profession, breaking new ground for social work practice in law enforcement agencies. Under Treger’s leadership, police social work was started as a new specialty area of social work practice. His groundbreaking vision for police social work practice continues to evolve to the present (2021), as progressively more law enforcement agencies either hire or establish collaborations with social workers, and community stakeholders recognize the need for a social work response to community social problems instead of law enforcement.

Article

Riis, Jacob August  

Larraine M. Edwards

Jacob August Riis (1848–1914) came to America in 1870 from Denmark and worked as a police reporter in New York City for 22 years. In addition to his realistic descriptions of slum conditions, Riis recommended health, educational, and environmental reform.

Article

Abolitionist Social Work  

Noor Toraif and Justin C. Mueller

Abolitionist social work is a theoretical framework and political project within the field of social work and an extension of the project of carceral abolitionism more broadly. Abolitionists seek to abolish punishment, prisons, police, and other carceral systems because they view these as being inherently destructive systems. Abolitionists argue that these carceral systems cause physiological, cognitive, economic, and political harms for incarcerated people, their families, and their communities; reinforce White supremacy; disproportionately burden the poor and marginalized; and fail to produce justice and healing after social harms have occurred. In their place, abolitionists want to create material conditions, institutions, and forms of community that facilitate emancipation and human flourishing and consequently render prisons, police, and other carceral systems obsolete. Abolitionist social workers advance this project in multiple ways, including critiquing the ways that social work and social workers are complicit in supporting or reinforcing carceral systems, challenging the expansion of carceral systems and carceral logics into social service domains, dismantling punitive and carceral institutions and methods of responding to social harms, implementing nonpunitive and noncarceral institutions and methods of responding to social harms, and strengthening the ability of communities to design and implement their own responses to social conflict and harm in the place of carceral institutions. As a theoretical framework, abolitionist social work draws from and extends the work of other critical frameworks and discourses, including anticarceral social work, feminist social work, dis/ability critical race studies, and transformative justice.

Article

Restorative Justice  

Katherine van Wormer

Restorative justice is an umbrella term for a victim-oriented method of righting a wrong, promoting healing following conflict, and providing a sense of safety in the aftermath of violence. Restorative justice refers not only to a number of strategies for resolving conflicts peacefully but also to a political campaign of sorts to advocate for the rights of victims and compassionate treatment of offenders. Instead of incarceration, for example, the option of community service coupled with substance abuse treatment might be favored. When the offender is an organization or governing body, reparations to affected individuals or populations might be in order. From the offender’s standpoint, accountability and truth-telling are stressed, as the offender typically offers to make amends for the harm that was done. From the victim/survivor’s standpoint, a key theme is empowerment, through receiving an apology from the wrongdoer and receiving the support of caring participants. Several models of restorative justice are relevant to social work, including victim–offender conferencing (sometimes incorrectly referred to as mediation), family group conferencing, healing circles, and community reparations. Social work involvement in the field of restorative justice occurs at all levels of practice. Its application in the context of macro social work involves communities, policy, and organizations.

Article

Burns, Eveline Mabel  

John F. Longres

Eveline Mabel Burns (1900–1985) was a social economist and educator at Columbia University. She helped formulate the original Social Security Act and directed research that shaped public assistance and work programs through the 1940s.