Mass incarceration is one of the most pervasive and devastating—yet invisible and undertreated—social problems to date. Philadelphia’s incarcerated population quadrupled between 1980 and 2008; there are approximately 8,000-9,000 adults in jail on any given day (Eichel, 2010). In 2009, Philadelphia’s incarceration rate was fourth highest among the 50 jurisdictions in the country with the largest jail populations (Eichel, 2010). In 2012, over 2.2 million Americans were incarcerated, with almost 7 million individuals (1 in 35 adults) under some form of court mandated correctional supervision (Glaze & Herberman, 2013). Of those who exit jail or prison, about two-thirds will recidivate within three years (Cooper, Durose, & Snyder, 2014). This crisis of mass incarceration impacts not only those who are incarcerated, but the community at large as well.
The Goldring Reentry Initiative (GRI) was established in 2011 to address the growing epidemic of mass incarceration and the many barriers individuals incarcerated in the Philadelphia Prison System (PPS) face upon release. By equipping Masters of Social Work (MSW) students with the knowledge and skills necessary to work in the criminal justice field, the GRI uniquely addresses the barriers to successful reentry. Because of its person-centered and holistic approach, the social work profession is especially well equipped to address the interwoven issues faced by individuals who are currently or formerly incarcerated.
Cooper, A.D., Durose, M.R., & Snyder, H.N. (2014). Recidivism of prisoners released in 30 states in 2005: Patterns from 2005 to 2010. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Recidivism of Prisoners Released Series.
Eichel, L. (2010). Philadelphia’s crowded, costly jails: The search for safe solutions. Philadelphia: Pew Charitable Trusts.
Glaze, L. E. and Herberman, E.J. (2013). Correctional populations in the United States, 2012. Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Statistics; Corrections: Key Facts at a Glance.