Description du projet :
Social work has played an important role in the criminal justice system since the profession’s founding. As recent research indicates (Reamer 2004; Young 2015), carceral social work’s position in the criminal justice system is a difficult one, as the system currently adheres to principles of punitiveness, security and increased administrative demands. In addition, social workers only represent a small proportion of prison staff and therefore have limited resources for rehabilitative work. This poses a challenge not only to the carceral social work profession, but also to the rehabilitative
principle of the criminal justice system and of prisons in general.
Various questions arise. First, how can carceral social workers maintain and adhere to professional and ethical principles? Second, is carceral social work limited to social workers, or what constitutes social work or rehabilitative work in the prison setting? Finally, what are the elements and references of carceral social work? This project therefore conceptualises carceral social work not as an isolated practice, but as an agencement (Deleuze & Guattari 1980) that potentially extends beyond the prison walls and includes social work professionals and their practices, as well as the practices of other actors, and relates to the profession as a whole and its ethics and quality standards.
Objectives and aims:
The project is aimed, first, at conceptualising carceral social work in a novel way (agencement) that enhances its understanding in current society. Second, this focus shifts discussions about methods and instruments towards basic reasoning about the restorative function of the criminal justice system and carceral social work. Finally, the project is aimed at bridging the gap between social science research on social work and applied research aimed at practitioners by developing principles and instruments that enable carceral social work to fulfil its restorative function.
Methods. First, carceral social work will be studied in five selected prisons in Switzerland. Second, events during which carceral social work crystallises, such as specific interactions with prisoners or their preparation for prison exit, will be identified to discern other elements (ramifications) of carceral social work (e.g. organisations, other actors, legal texts, ethical principles) both inside and outside the prison. The methods used include shadowing (as a form of observation), in-depth interviewing, mapping (not only of places, but also of the elements of carceral social work) and document analysis. The project focuses on all actors within a prison, beginning with social workers and including prisoners, staff and volunteers.
The project will deliver evidence to critically evaluate carceral social work in times of increasing punitiveness, securitisation and administrative pressure. The results will further our understanding of carceral social work. In addition, the theoretical perspective of relational thinking (agencement) proposes a novel analytical view on the topic. Apart from providing evidence for researchers, the study will also support carceral work in political and practical terms because the project is aimed at development for practical application in carceral social work.
Research team within HES-SO:
, Emprechtinger Julia
Durée du projet:
01.07.2022 - 30.06.2026
Montant global du projet: 930'473 CHF