It may come as a surprise that the field of social work goes beyond the needs of helping a particular client. But there are many instances where social work and the legal system converge, said Tina Maschi, Ph.D., associate professor of social work and director of Justia Agenda.
The field’s interplay with the law will be the focus of a daylong conference co-sponsored by the Graduate School of Social Service. “Forensic Social Work’s Role in Advancing Human Rights and Social Justice: A Local Global Celebration,” will take place on Thursday, Aug. 3, at the Lincoln Center campus.
“There are many definitions of forensic social work, but it’s often described as social workers working in legal settings or in justice centers, such as in the courts, in prisons, or in jails,” said Maschi. “It can also mean working with mental health clients or child adoption.”
Maschi said the conference is unique because it integrates human rights and social justice with forensic social work to bring about “a psycho-social intervention that makes a difference.”
“It’s about advancing a caring form of justice to challenge a system that uses punishment strategies that decimate indigent families and communities,” said Maschi. “Social workers can offer the antidote of caring justice that can help facilitate rehabilitation, healing, and reform.”
Maschi said that the current system has created a “separatist approach to solving problems,” when people should be working together. But, she added, the problems must be addressed—not just critiqued.
“It’s not enough to complain,” she said. “We have to create an alternative.”
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