Describe a current social problem and the vulnerable population it impacts.
Social Reintegration is one of the biggest social problems in the United States. More than 500,000 individuals are freed from prison every year, with three-quarters of those released being apprehended again within five years of their release. Men and women who have been released from correctional facilities find it difficult to reintegrate into their communities because they lack enough preparation, assistance, and resources. Employment chances, public housing assistance, and access to social services are all affected by a felony conviction on one’s criminal record. For those who have served time in jail, re-entry into the workforce is a significant concern. Employers are wary of hiring people with criminal backgrounds, and as a result, freed convicts have a difficult time obtaining and maintaining employment after being released (Obatusin & Ritter-Williams, 2019). Having even a minor criminal record creates major barriers to employment and has far-reaching consequences. Re-incarceration and unsuccessful re-entry have a devastating impact on communities, families, and individuals. Ex-offenders and those recently released from prison are the most vulnerable populations to this social problem. People from minority groups, notably young black men and those with limited educational opportunities, have been disproportionately harmed by this social problem.
How/when has this problem been identified historically, and what were the actions taken to address this concern?
When a person is released from prison, it is generally a very joyous day in their lives for them. It may be thrilling to be reunited with loved ones and the rest of the free world. To expect that the reintegration process into society would be painless, on the other hand, would be a mistake. Former criminals face several difficulties as they strive to rebuild their life. This is particularly true for those who have served a long prison sentence and are on parole. Since the construction of the first jail in the 1770s, the challenges of prisoner re-entry into society have been a long-standing source of concern in the community. Throughout the twentieth century, however, the issue of discrimination against ex-offenders gained momentum in the public discourse.
To address this issue, the United States government has developed a variety of interventions that take place after an arrest to divert offenders away from the criminal justice system and onto a more appropriate measure, such as restorative justice or appropriate therapy, if necessary. After incarcerating criminals, community-based sanctions are used to assist ex-criminals in reintegrating into society rather than subjecting them to imprisonment’s marginalizing and harmful effects. Individuals who have been sentenced to prison may use correctional programs in jail and aftercare services following their release. These programs are designed to assist jailed individuals in their efforts to reintegrate into society and lead law-abiding lives. In recent years, more emphasis has been placed on developing comprehensive interventions to provide frequent assistance to offenders both inside and outside of prison.
How have the populations affected by the social problem changed over time?
Ex-offenders who have challenges integrating back into society often find themselves reoffending. Since the 1980s, this issue has been more frequent, especially among male ex-offenders. According to the National Institute of Justice, over 43 percent of people recently released return to prison within a year of their release date. The majority of the 500,000 offenders freed in 35 states in 2020 were caught for a new crime within three years of their parole, followed by 78 percent within six years and 82 percent within nine years (Oliveira & Graca, 2021). An extensive number of other factors have a role in recidivism, including the individual’s circumstances before imprisonment, events during their incarceration, and the period after their release from prison. Because it is difficult for them to reintegrate into ‘regular’ society, one of the biggest reasons they wind up back in jail is because they cannot find work. Many offenders fear their upcoming release because they believe that their lives will be different “this time,” which does not always materialize.
How might this social problem be incongruent with social work values/ethics?
Re-entry into society after a traumatic event, rehabilitation, or jail may be challenging for the individual and their family members to navigate. Most of the time, there are several hurdles in the path of these individuals being mentally healthy, physically clean, and law-abiding citizens. So many social workers are trained to help persons who are reentering society, as well as their relatives and friends who are trying to aid them. Social workers play a critical role in re-entry programs in the United States and throughout the globe, particularly in prisons. Social workers’ responsibilities include, among other things, ensuring the well-being of vulnerable ex-offenders and providing support for their families (Nixon, 2020). Many social worker degrees are offered with various specialties, including jail social work at certain institutions. The goal of these programs is to address the unique difficulties that people who are jailed experience while also making certain that these persons are treated with dignity and worth in the same manner that everyone else is. Individual counseling, treatment assessments for appropriate programs, and group programs are all carried out by social workers to strengthen and support ex-offenders who have been released from prison.
The stages of establishing a policy included identifying the problem, creating evaluation criteria, producing alternative policies, analyzing other policies, and finally picking one chosen policy. The chosen policy is PUBLIC LAW 110–199—APRIL 9, 2008. This policy aims to break criminal recidivism to promote public safety (Davis, 2018). One strength of this policy is that it helps rehabilitate ties between offenders and their families after being released. The limitation of this policy to solving the identified social issue is that it does not encourage the development and promotion of evidence-based measures that increase public safety and reduce recidivism. It is necessary to revise this policy, particularly how ex-offenders are prepared to reintegrate into society. To provide continuous assistance to criminals both inside and outside of prison, greater emphasis should be placed on developing complete therapies that are based on a continuity of care. Before being released from prison, offenders should begin preparing for reintegration into society. Interventions should be designed to enable their speedy transfer from prison to community, reinforce the changes achieved during in-prison treatment, and continue until they have successfully reintegrated into their communities.
Davis, C. (2018). The Iconic Impact of Substance Use and High Recidivism in the Criminal Justice System: An Exploration of Interventions Within America’s Most Costly” Solution”.
Nixon, S. (2020). ‘Giving back and getting on with my life’: Peer mentoring, desistance and recovery of ex-offenders. Probation Journal, 67(1), 47-64.
Obatusin, O., & Ritter-Williams, D. (2019). A phenomenological study of employer perspectives on hiring ex-offenders. Cogent Social Sciences, 5(1), 1571730.
Oliveira, L., & Graca, D. (Eds.). (2018). Info communication skills as a rehabilitation and social reintegration tool for inmates. IGI Global.
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