Social Work Programs

October 17, 2011

Social Workers And Prison Work

Filed under: social workers and prison work — Tags: — admin @ 2:08 am

social workers and prison Social workers are needed even in correctional institutions in order to fulfill a variety of responsibilities. There are several different roles social workers can take in prisons. Some social workers may meet with prisoners for individual or group therapy as a means of addressing mental health issues, or helping them cope with long sentences and a drastic change in environment. Social workers may lead group therapy sessions in which prisoners process their personal situations as well as learn together how to deal with the demands of the stressful environment of a correctional facility.

Some social workers may have the responsibility of completing risk assessments for the court system as a means of determining their risk level if they were to be released into mainstream society. These social workers often have a great deal of experience in assessing similar situations and are able to somewhat accurately predict the costs and benefits of releasing certain prisoners into the community.

Other options involve working in the prison system as case managers, preparing prisoners for their release and coordinating with job programs, housing resources, and other agencies to assist prisoners with basic life skills in order to prevent reentry into the prison system.

Social workers can also be employed by state and local governments as probation officers, which require a degree in social work or a related degree. Probation officers, also known as community supervision officers, are responsible for following those on probation. Their duties also include formulating rehabilitation plans for the offenders to follow while they are in the community and ensuring that those people receive the services they need in order to complete the probationary period without violation.

Probation officers, particularly those working with minors, may also have a significant amount of contact with the families of those on probation. Probation officers can arrange for offenders to receive therapy, substance abuse education, and ensure that offenders attend their court dates.

Some social workers are employed by local police departments for various reasons. These social workers may work with police departments to identify gang members and act as liaisons between those gangs and law enforcement. Police social workers may also intervene in domestic violence situations, in which advanced counseling or active listening skills may be warranted.

No matter the specific social work job description, the social worker must treat prisoners with respect and dignity. Prisoners may be suffering from feelings of loneliness and hopelessness more than is found in the general population, so human contact can be extremely significant in the life of a prisoner. While the prison environment often detracts from the individuality of the human and his or her unique qualities, through interactions with a social worker prisoners may begin to feel more respected and appreciated. Byron Katie wrote that she works in prisons at times and she waits for one of the inmates to make contact with her eyes. Once that person does, the others often follow. That is when she says there is an openness for genuine dialogue.

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