7 Facts YOU should know about Forensic Social Work-Valerie Protass

Forensic Social Work refers to social work with criminals, victims, or offenders (John Vassello, 2016, Blackboard).

The U.S. rate of incarceration is the highest in the world with 730 prisoners for every 100,000 citizens (Jones& Mauer, 2013, pg. 3).

Unfortunately, there is tremendous racial and ethnic disparities among those who are incarcerated. People of color make up 65% of the prison population. And the lifetime likelihood of going to prison is 28% for black men, 16% for Hispanic men and just over 4% for white men (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, pg. 312)

The annual rate of growth in the number of incarcerated women has increased faster than that for men over the past ten years with much of this increase due to charges in drug laws and harsher sentencing for drug offenses (DiNitto& McNeece, 2008, pg. 313)

However, 36% of incarcerated drug offenders were low level, had limited criminal histories, were non-violent, and had minimal roles in their offenses. Perhaps substance abuse treatment programs might be a more reasonable option (Jones & Mauer, 2013, pg. 60).

In criminal populations, there are significant mental health issues and substance abuse disorders – about 40% of the criminal population have a mental illness and 75% have a substance abuse problems (Jeff Pryor, Feb 18, 2016).

The reentry movement addresses the challenges of 700,000 people returning home from prison each year- it seeks to reduce crime by focusing on community based prevention and treatment programs. Unfortunately, 66% of people go back to prison if they don’t receive reentry services (Pryor, Jeff, Feb 18, 2016). These reentry programs help to provide guidance and support with integrating back into society by means of education, employment, housing, and supportive services (Jones& Mauer, 2013, pg. 105).



DiNitto, D., & McNeece, C. (2008). Social work: Issues and opportunities in a challenging profession (3rd ed.). Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books

Jones, S., & Mauer, M. (2013). Race to incarcerate: A graphic retelling. New York: The New Press.

Pryor, Jeff. Personal communication. February, 18, 2016.

Vassello, John. Personal communication, February 18 , 2016.

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