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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Recidivism: An Action Research Study of Social Workers’ and Defense Attorneys’ Perspectives
by Westfall, Amanda E., D.S.W., Capella University, 2019, 109; 22624113
Abstract (Summary)

Recidivism, the likelihood of a convicted criminal to reoffend, is a challenge within the criminal justice system, with risk factors including offending history, psychological attributes, interpersonal relationships, and environmental influences. The study identified themes that could serve to empower all stakeholders in terms of access to offender resources, with the goal of ultimately affecting recidivism rates. The research addressed a gap in the literature surrounding social worker and defense attorney perceptions regarding offender recidivism, barriers to successful reentry, and possible action-oriented solutions. The research design was a general qualitative action research (AR) methodology using semistructured individual interviews, a focus group, and a review of artifacts to examine the knowledge of the community structure and potential resources available to the offender. This study utilized purposeful sampling to select a group of participants whose main job description entailed providing prisoners with the best representation possible during criminal proceedings. The primary research question explored defense attorney and social worker perspectives in terms of what can be done to assess and address the factors that lead to recidivism. Data analysis revealed three common themes, which included high rates of re-offense, social worker and defense attorney lack of support, and social worker and defense attorney lack of knowledge. The participant perception-derived themes identified the issue of a need to improve access to resources for offenders, thus identifying a systemic issue. The goal of the study surrounded helping administration and staff of any law office examine the level knowledge of community resources available to offenders being released into the community. The importance of every front-line worker having access to all community resources and the ability to share that knowledge with others is essential in bridging the gap between legal and social systems. Future research should focus on the perspective of offenders who are being released into the community with future research including conducting a longitudinal study with offenders in order to gather information from each offender during the transition period. This type of research would make it possible to ascertain additional risk and prevention factors of recidivism.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Roland, Brian D
Commitee: Sidell, Nancy, Atkins, Philip
School: Capella University
Department: School of Public Service Leadership
School Location: United States -- Minnesota
Source: DAI-A 81/10(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work
Keywords: Action research, Defense attorney, Forensic social work, Law office, Prisoner, Recidivism
Publication Number: 22624113
ISBN: 9798607350543
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