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Article

Prison Violence  

Kristine Levan

This entry presents an overview of prison violence and how issues such as overcrowding and scarcity of resources may contribute. Exploring both collective and interpersonal levels of violence, issues such as incidents between inmates and those between inmates and staff are examined. This entry looks at the issues facing males, females, juveniles, and the mentally ill as they contend with correctional institutions and violence within these institutions. The potential effects of violent victimization are also examined, as well as potential interventions and solutions to reduce violence.

Article

Criminal Justice: Corrections  

C. Aaron McNeece

The United States has more than 7 million adults under correctional supervision, with more than 2 million incarcerated. The history and theories behind incarceration are described, along with the current jail and prison inmate populations. Specific problems of juveniles and women are mentioned. Current trends and issues in corrections are discussed, including community-based corrections, privatization, faith-based programs, and health care. The roles of social workers in the correctional system are outlined. Comments are made on the future of incarceration.

Article

Rush, Benjamin  

Larraine M. Edwards

Benjamin Rush (1746–1813) was a political activist and advocate for free education, prison reform, and the abolition of slavery. He was a teaching physician at the University of Pennsylvania and worked to improve the treatment of mentally ill people.

Article

Smart Decarceration  

Carrie Pettus

After a period of mass incarceration that spanned the 1970s through the 2010s, the United States remains the leading incarcerator in the world. Incarceration rates in the United States outpace those of other countries by several hundred per 100,000. Incarceration rates began to decline slightly in 2009, when there was a loss of fiscal, political, and moral will for mass incarceration policy and practices. First, the onset of smart decarceration approaches, the historical context from which smart decarceration stems, and the societal momentum that led to the conceptualization of smart decarceration are described. Smart decarceration is a lead strategy in social work that has been adopted by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare as one of the 12 Grand Challenges for Social Work for the decade 2015–2025. Finally, an overview of the current status of smart decarceration and details shifts and initiatives to pursue at the intersection of social work and smart decarceration is provided.

Article

Prison Social Work  

Jason Matejkowski, Toni Johnson, and Margaret E. Severson

This entry provides a description of prison social work and the array of responsibilities that social workers in prison settings have, including intake screening and assessment, supervision, crisis intervention, ongoing treatment, case management, and parole and release planning. The authors provide the legal context for providing social-work services to prisoners and delve into issues involving three specific populations of growing concern to corrections officials and to prison social work: women inmates, inmates who are parents, and inmates with mental illness. The tension between the goals of social work and corrections is explored and opportunities for social workers to apply their professional values within the prison setting are highlighted.

Article

Brockway, Zebulon Reed  

Jean K. Quam

Zebulon Reed Brockway (1827–1920) was a prison reformer primarily associated with New York State Reformatory in Elmira. A believer in rehabilitation rather than punishment, he initiated a program to prepare prisoners for release. His innovations met with considerable official opposition.

Article

Dix, Dorothea Lynde  

Jean K. Quam

Dorothea Lynde Dix (1802–1887) was a writer and pioneer in the mental health movement. She lobbied national and internationally on behalf of the deaf and insane and was responsible for the establishment of 32 public and private mental health institutions.

Article

Vinson, Phillipe Anthony (Tony)  

Eileen Baldry

Phillipe Anthony (Tony) Vinson (1935–2017) AM, whose work spanned the disciplines of social work, social policy, criminology, psychology, education, public administration and social research, was one of Australia’s most distinguished social scientists and public intellectuals. As a pioneer in social research and social reform, he was an initiator of groundbreaking studies on the distribution of disadvantage in Australia, and author of numerous academic articles and reports for governments and NGOs on social justice and equity.

Article

Pray, Kenneth  

Larraine M. Edwards

Kenneth Pray (1882–1948), a leader in social work education, worked for the Public Charities Association and was interested in prison reform. He also served as director of social planning and administration at the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Work.

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.