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Social work practice with reentry from incarceration

Thomas K. Kenemore

pp. 239-260

This chapter describes and illustrates an application of relational social work practice with individuals in transition from prison or jail to their communities and to free society.Integrated individual, ecological, cultural, and political perspectives are essential to understanding and working with the issues unique to this population. The vast reentry population is described, as are characteristics and issues specific to their experience. Recognition that mental illness, substance abuse, homelessness, educational limitations, employment challenges, and the burden of a criminal background are all dominant for the individual reentering from jail or prison enhances their potential for recidivism and failure. Taken as a whole, these factors indicate the critical role for social work practice, and particularly relational practice, of engaging individuals in a respectful, adequately complex, and cohesion-building experience, against great odds. Clinical assessment and treatment planning need to evolve to capture client individualization and strength and to resist the pull toward social and psychological pathological categorization of reentry clients. The chapter discusses the importance of engaging with the individual's subjective experience, utilizing both intersubjective and anti-oppressive perspectives. A framework incorporating five steps is described and illustrated with a constructed case. Essential relational skills are identified, described, and illustrated. A case is made for actively developing a progressive clinical social work practice with this challenged and challenging population.

Publication details

DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4614-6681-9_15

Full citation:

Kenemore, T. K. (2014)., Social work practice with reentry from incarceration, in J. B. Rosenberger (ed.), Relational social work practice with diverse populations, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 239-260.

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