" Social Workers Against Criminalization" Launched to Work Against Mass Criminalization, Incarceration, Police Violence, and Extrajudicial Killings
Social Workers Against Criminalization (SWAC) is a committee of NASW-NYC, which works to bring an Anti-Criminalization Lens to the larger social work community.
The emergence of SWAC is an acknowledgement of the ways in which social workers have often participated in and perpetuated institutional racism and state violence while simultaneously recognizing the capacity and responsibility that social workers have to support the inherent resilience of oppressed communities.
Through political education, policy and organizing initiatives, and elevating trauma-informed care, SWAC promotes the professional obligations of social workers (as defined in the NASW’s Code of Ethics) to dismantle the structures that perpetuate state violence and mass criminalization while increasing our accountability to those most directly impacted.
What is an Anti-Criminalization Lens?
SWAC’s anti-criminalization lens identifies the web of policies and systems that work together to target, criminalize, and punish oppressed communities and acknowledges that communities of color and economically disenfranchised communities are disproportionately targeted. This unique lens challenges social workers to examine our role in the perpetuation of mass criminalization. SWAC’s anti-criminalization lens stands against the over-policing of communities of color, barriers to the profession for justice-involved individuals, and the pervasive application of the punishment paradigm in our schools, courts, and child welfare and immigration systems. This lens infuses the work of SWAC.
What We Do
SWAC works to organize social workers to end policies and practices that perpetuate mass criminalization, incarceration, and structural oppression. We hold monthly meetings which include political education and have a number of working groups focusing on specific projects. Our current working groups are: Policy and Organizing Initiatives, Trauma Informed Care, and Barriers to Employment in Social Work for Justice Involved People.
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