Mass incarceration is a pervasive and devastating—yet often invisible and undertreated—social problem in the United States and in Philadelphia. Philadelphia’s incarcerated population quadrupled between 1980 and 2008, at which point approximately 8,000-9,000 adults were in jail on any given day (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). While significant reform efforts have been undertaken in Philadelphia in the last decade, Pennsylvania remains the state with the highest incarceration rate in the northeast, as well as with the highest number and rate of parole supervision in the United States (ACLUPA, 2019). 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 epidemic of mass incarceration and the many barriers individuals incarcerated in the Philadelphia Department of Prisons (PDP) 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.
ACLU PA (2019). Ending Mass Incarceration in Pennsylvania. Philadelphia, PA: ACLU of Pennsylvania; ACLU Smart Justice Pennsylvania.
View contact information for the GRI.