In the News
Individuals leaving incarceration and returning home deserve much more than the right to vote. They need the opportunities to enable them to successfully rejoin society.
We can implement proven solutions and offer help to those newly released. We need to start with better preparation within prison prior to release, including better job training. We also need to fund post-release mental health and substance-abuse counseling and help identifying suitable housing. We need to listen to the experts like Dr. Pettus-Davis and start treating these issues with knowledge-based solutions and stop ignoring the existing results that negatively impact us all.
Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the nationwide unrest of the summer months, local, state, and federal authorities are taking a fresh look at significant reforms to how the criminal justice system engages with those in its charge. One important area is the need to address how to maintain and increase access to mental health and rehabilitation programs for those who have contact with the criminal justice system and whose release back into the community is imminent.
A recent study from the Institute for Justice Research and Development focused on people returning home after a period of incarceration, and the myriad challenges they face, reveals just how much this population’s mental health is affected by trauma of a nature that is much less common in the broader society. The study found that over the course of the first eight months following release from incarceration, 47% had experienced at least one traumatic event, with one in five of those actually losing a loved one to homicide.
News of the dangerous conditions inside correctional facilities have flooded the headlines throughout the pandemic, but now that many incarcerated individuals have been released to slow the spread behind bars, some are finding reentry “overwhelming,” according to Florida State University’s Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD). The researchers set out to empirically document the prisoners’ experiences and perspectives, while also highlighting how prisons attempted to contain the spread of COVID-19.
People likely don’t want to read about PTSD among cops, but it exists and it’s creating a lot of our problems if it is untreated. In his April 8, 2019 article in the National Institutes of Justice Journal, Jim Dawson notes that up to 27% of police officers suffer from PTSD. Dr. Carrie Pettus-Davis of Florida State University studies the psychological issues of police officers. She states that “Untreated PTSD can lead officers to a misappraisal of cues in certain situations.”
Researchers from Purdue University, Florida State University, and University of Alabama-Huntsville have been awarded a $1.9 million grant from the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to see whether an AI-based support and monitoring system can reveal the risky behaviors and stressful situations that often lead people back to incarceration. The project will also address obstacles faced overburdened caseworkers.
“This solution can get us on a path to substantially reduce the size of our criminal justice system, which is desperately needed in our country,” said Carrie Pettus-Davis, executive director and founder of FSU’s Institute for Justice Research and Development.
Omar Narvaez said his brother had trouble finding a job in Houston when he was released from prison. The Dallas City Council member said he doesn’t want that to happen to others who have paid their debt and want to become productive members of society. He and other council members voted unanimously Wednesday to allocate up to $500,000 in state grant money toward housing and job skills training and placement for those leaving prison so they don’t wind up back behind bars.
This move was bolstered by the 5-Key Model program being tested in Dallas. The program’s leader, Carrie Pettus-Davis, the founding executive director of the Institute for Justice Research and Development, has called Dallas a natural test site. She has said the city was well ahead of the curve on providing reentry services for its large ex-offender population.
IJRD is dedicated to the betterment of the lives of the individuals, families and communities impacted by the criminal justice system. Even before the renewed national consciousness about racial violence in our nation, IJRD has been at the forefront of addressing racial and economic disparities documented throughout the criminal justice system. Learn more about how IJRD promotes racial and economic equity and how IJRD team members are working to generate knowledge, expanding practice, and improve outcomes for justice-involved individuals related to the spread of COVID-19.
Learn about IJRD, the largest academic research institution in the nation working at the intersection of social work and criminal justice, and their dedication to generating data-driven solutions to criminal justice reforms.
FSU College of Social Work Associate Professor Carrie Pettus-Davis addressed congressional leaders as part of a panel on social work and policing. On June 30, 2020, four experts convened to discuss social work's role in the future of policing. Moderated by Charles E. Lewis, Jr., the panel included Derrick Jackson, George T. Patterson, Desmond U. Patton, and Carrie Pettus-Davis.
Researchers at the Institute for Justice Research and Development (IJRD) at the Florida State University College of Social Work find that nearly one-half of study participants experience an impactful traumatic event after their release from incarceration and lose substantial resources that would otherwise support their successful release. This trauma and loss occurs within the first eight months after release from prison.