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Field work programme provides opportunities to the social work students/learners to apply his/her theoretical knowledge skilled in the classroom appropriately in different practical situations whether it is in the community or social welfare or correctional agencies/settings. It could serve a kind of social laboratory where the students are taught to test their theoretical knowledge and skills against practical situations of social living.
Practically in India, the Correctional setting works under a combination of four major sub-systems i.e. police, prosecution, judiciary and the correctional services. Each sub-system is expected not only to play its own statutory role to contribute towards the achievement of the main objectives of the Criminal Justice system as a whole but also to strengthen each other’s role in a strenuous manner. But the ground reality shows that each of these sub-systems usually tend to function as a system of its own and, many a time, works at cross purposes with the other segments of the Criminal Justice System. India’s criminal justice system has not been able to deliver on what is anticipated of it and is, in fact, under mammoth sprain because of the problems in all the components law enforcement, adjudication and correction and, therefore, the need for reforms is the question of the hour
Therefore, social worker play prominent roles in administrative and practice positions in correctional setting with all the law enforcing agencies to prevent this kind of social problem in the society and also to work on rehabilitation and to provide and secure social justice.
Keywords: Correctional setting; Social work; Criminal justice system; Roles of social workers; Social worker’s intervention cycle
Field work programme provides opportunities to the social work students/learners to apply his/her theoretical knowledge skilled in the classroom appropriately in different practical situations whether it is in the community or social welfare or correctional agencies/settings [1-7]. It could serve a kind of social laboratory where the students are taught to test their theoretical knowledge and skills against practical situations of social living. Now field work is recognized as a major and fundamental component in professional social work education because of its implications for professional practice [8-15].
Social-work services have been offered in prisons/correctional setting for nearly a century in USA and were advanced by the advocacy efforts of Kenneth Pray, the former dean of the University Of Pennsylvania School of Social Work (now the School of Social Policy and Practice). Pray’s impassioned pleas for social-work involvement with prisoners is a must read for every social worker who wonders why our involvement is necessary and what we would do while there Pray ; Pray & Towle . Unfortunately, despite Pray’s efforts, social work has assumed an ambivalent stance toward its work in prisons, perhaps because of the conflicting values of the profession and the institution. However, the explosion in the prison population experienced since the 1980s, along with the federal court actions described above, has created an ever-expanding need for the unique set of professional skills that social workers bring to correctional institutions.
The NASW’s  recognizes the importance of providing quality services to the incarcerated population in its policy statement related to social work in the criminal justice system. Social Work Speaks is a comprehensive collection of policies adopted and revised by the NASW’s key policy-making body, the Delegate Assembly, and, in relevant part, the policy recommendations vis-à-vis the incarcerated population challenge social workers to do the following:
Provide ongoing advocacy to address the disproportionate rate of incarceration of racial or ethnic minorities, juveniles, women, and undocumented individuals.
Provide culturally competent treatment to and intervention for the growing populations of inmates with mental illness, substance issues, or co-occurring disorders.
Seek access to quality health care, medications,
nutrition, treatment, and rehabilitation programs for
Identify appropriate educational and vocational
opportunities to assist incarcerated individuals with
transitioning back into their communities; and
Provide advocacy and social-work leadership to
establish national policy on criminal justice issues.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, the criminal
justice system is defined as “the system of law enforcement,
the bar, the judiciary, corrections, and probation that is directly
involved in the apprehension, prosecution, defense, sentencing,
incarceration, and supervision of those suspected of or charged
with criminal offenses. The principal objective of a criminal
justice system is to impart a sense of security to the people’’.
Social work, being goal-oriented and intervention-oriented
professional education, aims at helping social work trainees
to acquire and internalize deep knowledge of the theory and
the techniques for achieving social work objectives. The social
work trainee has to learn every practical aspect within his/her
two years of postgraduate training programme. Further, they
have to acquire an understanding of the principles, concepts,
policies and processes which constitute the profession of social
work. Through the field work programme social work trainee
is prepared to be a competent professional social worker. The
main objective of field work in social work education is to
provide the opportunities to the students to learn and practice
the professional skills in the field that are taught in the class.
A trainee social worker while in the field tries to interpret and
diagnose the situation in the background of the knowledge and
understanding and thus helps adjustment to the situations. Thus
field work aims at the development of the students’ capacities
and capabilities as a realistic worker. Direct contract and touch
with the people helps students grow in knowledge about people
and their problems providing them with emotional maturity,
power of judgment and stability in action.
The Second Review Committee on Social Work Education
(1980) has mentioned the following objectives of field work:
Development of professional skills through learning to
use knowledge for the study and analysis of problems and
selection of appropriate means to solve them.
Development of skills in problem solving at the macro
and micro levels.
Integration of classroom learning with field practice.
Development of skills required for professional practice
at the particular level of training.
Development of professional attitude, values, and
Development of self-awareness and professional ideal.
The main objectives of field work as follows:
Develop professional skills through learning how to
utilize the knowledge for the study of the relevant fact, the
analysis of problem and selection of the appropriate means
of problem solving.
The development of skills for problem solving in work
at the micro level (individual, family, small group, community
etc.) and change at the macro level in social institutions and
Provide concurrent opportunity for the integration of
class room learning in the field practice and vice versa.
Develop skills require for professional practice at the
particular level of training.
Develop professional attitude involving impartiality,
non judgmental attitudes, objectively.
Develop professional values and commitments such
as respect for human dignity and worth and the right to
participation and self determination compatible with the
good of society.
Develop awareness of self and the ways in which
psychological and cultural factors affects the perceptions
and responses to others and
Develop the professional ideal.
In correctional setting, social workers may work in jails,
prisons, community-based organizations and primary health
care agencies that serve ex-offenders, and in the courts. Social
workers are committed to social justice on both the micro, or
individual, and macro, or large-scale, levels. Practitioners on the
macro level usually focus on helping groups, communities and
society as a whole. This is why promoting social justice is often
linked with macro practice. Macro-level social workers try to
promote equality among all people regardless of gender, race,
religious beliefs or economic background.
Correctional institution is nothing but the penal of institution
maintained by the government.
Types of correctional institutions for institutional treatment:
Protective home for women
Short stay home
Prisons: Prisons are the place in which criminals could
be securely confined and this containment function had
continued to predominate in spite of the gradual emergence
of other alms for imprisonment, such as deterrence or
Observation homes: Observation homes established
for the temporary of any juvenile in conflict with law
during the pendency of a case before the juvenile justice
board. Every juvenile who is not placed under the change of
parent or guardian is sent to an observation home. He/she
initially kept in a reception unit of the observation home for
preliminary enquiries. Care and classification of the juveniles
is done according to his/her age group, such as 7-12 years,
12-16 years and 16-18 years, giving due to consideration to
physical and mental status and degree offence committed.
Special homes: Under juvenile justice (care and
protection) Act, 2000 state government is empowered for
establishing and maintaining special homes for reformation
and rehabilitation of juveniles in conflict with law. Such
homes are maintained by the government or by certified
voluntary organization. In these homes, various types of
services are provided which necessary for the re- socialize
of a juvenile.
Children homes: Children homes are contemplated
for the reception of children in need of care and protection
during the pendency of enquiry even for their stay as case
may be. Every child’s home is provided with facilities
of accommodation, maintenance, education, vocational
training, rehabilitation and development character and
After-care organizations: These organizations are
meant for the juveniles discharge from the children’s homes
and special homes. The purpose of the aftercare organization
is help in the rehabilitation and resettlement of children
through extended educational and vocational training
facilities including job placement. The stay in aftercare
organization is restricted to a maximum of three years over
seventeen years age till s (he) attains the age of till s (he)
attains the age of 20 years on the basis of a discharge report
prepared by competent.
Protective home for women: The protective home and
corrective institutions are established Under the Immoral
Traffic (prevention) Act by Directorate of Social Welfare. It
admits girls and women, who are rescued from brothels, are
abducted and kidnapped (section 366 IPC), raped (section
376 IPC) and are in moral danger. The girl and women can
get admission only through the orders of the court and
will continue to stay till the Court gives the order for her
restoration or rehabilitation.
Short stay homes: It is institution established under
the Immoral Traffic (prevention) Act (ITPA) by Government/
Union Territory Administration. The purpose is to provide
ort temporary shelter to the needy women/girls in distress,
pending their restoration or readjustment in their families
or admission in suitable institutes. The short stay home
provides admission to girls and women in the age group of
18 to 45years.Who are destitute distress deserted or are
in moral danger. The duration of stay in short stay home
is districted to 6 months. The home provides safe custody,
boarding, lodging, food, clothing medical care and vocational
training like tailoring and knitting. Pt provides specialties
like food, shelter, accommodation, medical care non formal
education and vocational training. The superintendent of
short stay home makes all efforts to restore or, reintegrate
the women/girl in her family or through marriage.
Beggars home: These homes are established under the
Anti-Beggary laws of the state government. Unfortunately,
there is no Anti-Beggary Act formulated at the national level.
These Acts are formulated by the state at their own initiatives.
Reception centers and Bagger Homes are established under
the Act. The Beggar’s home provides specialties like food,
shelter, accommodation, medical care, non-formal education
and vocational training to beggars so they are economically
rehabilitated into society.
Types of correctional institutions for Non-institutional
Non-institutional treatments are community-based
correctional programmes that help in the reintegration of
offenders. Community-based correction is an effective method
of accomplishing the changes in the behavior of the offender by
helping him to become a law-abiding citizen.
Probation: The term probation is used denote the status
of a person placed on probation, to refer to the subsystem of the
criminal justice system. Probation is an alternative to the prison/
special home. It is a sentence that does not involve confinement
but may involve conditions imposed by the Court Juvenile Justice
Board, usually under the supervision of a probation officer.
Parole: Parole is a treatment programme in which the
offender, after serving part of a term in correctional institution,
is conditionally released under the supervision and treatment of
a Parole Officer. Parole is not of every individual in prison. It is
viewed as a privilege granted to a prisoner for good behavior and process while in prison and is considered useful in rehabilitation
Hybrid Treatment: This is a kind of correctional
treatment in a collaborative enterprise between corrections
and treatment professionals.
Community service: Community service, the offenders
must give personal time to perform takes that are valued
in the community. This programme is especially meant for
juvenile and adolescents who are placed in community
Work release: In work release programme. The inmates
are released from incarceration to work. They enable the
offenders to engage in positive contacts with the community,
assuming of course, that work placement is satisfactory. They
permit offenders to provide some support for themselves
and their families. This can eliminates the self- concept of
failure that may be the result of loss the supportive role.
Social workers in criminal justice settings often assess new
arrivals to the prison, develop treatment and support plans for
inmates, provide individual therapy and psychosocial educational
support groups, provide referrals to medical or mental-health
services, and monitor the progress and compliance of inmates in
treatment. As in most settings, social workers in criminal justice
facilities document inmates’ progress in their health records,
write progress reports, and, in some institutions, present their
cases at “grand rounds” or in other institutional forums.
In many prison systems, the initial assessment of the inmate
involves a battery of psychological tests and interviews with
social workers and other treatment professionals to determine
the presence of acute (psychosis, anxiety, depression, suicide
ideation) and chronic conditions (severe and persistent
mental illness, history and current manifestations of trauma
and substance abuse). During the assessment phase the social
worker determines the inmate’s eligibility for services and
treatment and, in theory if not in reality, begins to plan for the
inmate’s discharge. The latter is no small task: in the United
States the vast majority of prisoners return to the community;
about 1,600 prisoners a day are released from state and federal
prisons Travis .
Based on the assessment data, intervention and treatment
plans are developed, taking into consideration the unique needs
of the inmate; these may include a combination of individual
counselling, involvement in a specialized treatment group, and
case management services. A growing body of research indicates
that strengths-based case management is an effective response
to inmates in need of skills in daily living or those who struggle
with alcohol and drug addiction or with serious physical or
mental-health issues Bauserman . Hess, Vanderplasschen,
Rapp, Broekaert, and Fridell (2007) looked at the relevant body
of research from 15 randomized studies of case management for
persons with substance-abuse disorders and found a moderate
effect size in the effectiveness of case management in linking
clients with treatment and other services. Although a smaller
effect was detected, Hess and colleagues also found that case
management services had a positive impact on long-term
drug use and may have contributed to a reduction in criminal
Social workers must have compassion and empathy for the
people they work with, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor
Statistics [26-30]. These professional expectations can be in
conflict, however, with society’s needs for public safety, according
to “Criminal Justice Social Work in the United States-Adapting
to New Challenges.” A person who commits a crime because of
mental health issues may need to be treated differently than an
offender who committed the crime in full awareness that what
he did was wrong. The social worker can help other members
of the legal system, such as lawyers and judges, as well as juries
understand the difference between the two offenders.
Some social workers may work with children and families
who have entered the criminal justice system. The social worker
might help a woman who was a victim of domestic violence
to find a safe place for herself and her children, or apply for
benefits such as food stamps [31-35]. On the other hand, social
workers help children in the foster care system. They may
handle adoptions or locate and work with foster families when
children have been removed from the home by the court because
of neglect or abuse.
Juveniles who are in the system because they have committed
or been the victim of crimes may need the assistance of a social
worker for issues such as a minor’s ability to testify. Other
issues relevant to minors include their ability to make medical
decisions, child custody issues or the necessity to appoint
a guardian if a parent dies or becomes incapacitated. Social
workers in the criminal justice system who work with children
often become advocates for different legal standards for children
as compared to adults, according to the National Association of
Although any social worker might be required to provide
courtroom testimony, social workers in the criminal justice
system have many roles. Some work as researchers to obtain
relevant information about a particular case. Others serve as
probation officers or case managers. A social worker in a jail
or prison might function as a therapist for prisoners. Forensic
social workers could draft reports about defendants that include information about the defendant’s decision-making capabilities,
medical and mental health, education or test results, according
to a November 2012 article in “NASW News” . Other social
workers provide therapy to sex offenders, perform conflict
mediation or act as victim advocates. Social workers help crime
victims manoeuvre through complex legal processes and offer
a helping hand on the road to recovery. On the other side of
the scale, social workers in public defenders’ offices ensure
defendants have a right to explain their story, and they promote
the benefits of rehabilitation.
Social work positions within corrections encompass a wide
range of skills and specialized services, including:
Comprehensive need assessment of the offenders
Individual/family/group counseling/group therapy
Negotiation and mediation
Community capacity building and
Advocacy (individual and systemic).
Social workers can play their interventional role through
law enforcement agencies time to time in different areas
mentioned in the above. Here social worker also plays their
roles as mediator, catalyst, therapist, teacher, researcher, guide,
communicator, liazoning, care giver etc. depending on the
veracity of the crimes/issues. Social worker can also be placed in
the following areas of intervention where they also would have
some roles to play Figure 1.
Social workers act independently. They make decisions
based on their experience, judgment, and clinical assessment
skills. At the same time, they need to work well in a team setting
to provide effective interventions and treatments that contribute
to an offender’s rehabilitation and safe return to the community.
Use of Social Work Methods in Correctional Setting: The
student social worker can use all the social work methods during
their field work placement in the correctional setting.
Social Casework in correctional settings: Social case work
involves a secure face to face relationship essentially basis in
working with individuals and their problem. The practice of the
case work is being governed by five key basic assumptions that
are helpful in serving the offender which are as follows:
Every individual must be seen as a person of worth and
Behavior, whether acceptable unacceptable to the
community, express a need of the individual.
An individual can and will change her/his behavior if
the right time and in the right amount.
If the offer of help is given before the problem become
serious aggravated, the repose is likely to be better; and
The family is the most influence force in the
development of personality in the crucial early years.
Social Group work in correctional settings.
Group work with delinquents and adult offenders is usually
considered as a powerful method for modifying behavior and
attitude. The purpose of group work in correctional settings is:
To strengthen the emotional security of the offender
within the framework of the group so that he does not feel alone and helpless but also moves towards not being wholly
dependent on it.
To strengthen the offender’s independence by helping
him to actually participate in the group discussion, and not
to submit to a gang leader or a powerful sub-group.
The introduction of an adult (group worker) who
represent the values of a society offenders often reject,
but who, because of his accepting attitude represent adult
security and love.
To provide an opportunity to gain inner resilience and
status with the group through accomplishment in activities
Community organization in correctional setting:
Community organization has an important role in rehabilitation
and reintegration of released offenders into mainstream of the
society. At the same time community organization is used widely
for the prevention of crime and delinquency. The convicts after
completing the sentence usually face problems in the adjustment
with family, relatives, peer group, neighborhood and even for
acquiring employment. Social workers consider family to be an
important unit that can provide support released offenders to
take care of his various needs and aspirations. For these social
worker has to mobilize the resources for meeting the needs of
individuals and establishing support groups on whom one can
rely upon, as and when necessary.
Social action in correctional setting: Social action has too
imperative role to play in the field of corrections. Among others,
the process of Public Interest Litigation (PIL) could be one of
the main issues. The under-trials are kept in the jail for years
without their cases even being processed, let alone decided.
In such cases social workers have approached the court to get
justice for such under trails that have spent years in judicial
custody then required in the jails just waiting for their trails to
begin. Therefore lobbying also work as an important technique
Social work research and social welfare in correctional
settings: There is need to evaluate the current programmes
and services in the field of corrections to bring about certain
development in this setting. Extensive research studies are
required ‘in order to select alternative to the institutional care.
At the same time, it is desirable to measure the relative efficacy
of institutional and non-institutional services in the field of
The social work professional could do some work with other
personnel in the correctional setting. Custodial staff is generally
overburdened with the security duties Figure 2. One after comes
cross the question whether custodial staff such as warder, head
warder, assistant jailor, deputy jailors, jailors, etc., are meant
only for custody and not for correctional treatment [36-38].
Is correctional treatment the responsibility of welfare
officer, doctor or psychiatrist only..? It seems to be a misleading
dichotomy Figure 3. Social worker should conduct some training
and some activities for attitudinal and behavioral change of
offenders so that they can adjust with the society.
Social work has a momentous role to play in correctional
setting. With its goal of restoring and enhancing the social
functioning, social work professionals/students through
different designation as caseworker, welfare officer, social
worker, probation officer or prison officer help the offenders
in correcting and modifying their personality, attitude and to
reintegrate them back into the society.