Course Number: 

As social workers, we strive for social justice by affecting social systems at numerous levels, and often through our work with disadvantaged populations. The U.S. criminal justice system has a tremendous impact on disadvantaged populations and, as such, has much overlap with social work in terms of persons involved in both entities. However, social workers often are inadequately trained to recognize this interface and to influence it in ways that lead to positive results for the client systems they serve. As the U.S. begins to enter an era of decarceration, attempting to reverse four decades of mass incarceration, the profession of social work has a unique opportunity to impact criminal justice policy and practice in remarkable ways. This course will extend our understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system, how it intersects with the social work profession and client systems, and how social workers can promote social justice at this critical juncture, with particular emphasis on developing interventions to reduce the use of incarceration. The focus of this course is the adult criminal justice system; students who have interest in juvenile justice may choose to focus on that system in their individual assignments. The course is applicable to any student who wishes to better understand how the criminal justice system interacts with the clients they serve (whether the student plans to work in a criminal justice-specific setting or not).