Skip to main content Skip to search

YU News

YU News

Introducing the Criminal Justice Social Work Research Team

In 2021, WSSW received funding to research the ways criminal justice social workers (CJSW) talk with their clients/communities about voting.  CJSW interact with those engaged with and returning from the criminal justice system through roles in correctional facilities; jails; parole and probation agencies; court systems; drug courts; mental health courts; community-based nonprofit and faith-based agencies; and primary health/behavioral health care.  This study asks how criminal justice social workers see the importance of clients voting, understand their state’s rules about felony disenfranchisement, and communicate about voting with affected individuals and communities.

As we close out Black History Month, it is especially important to note that because of systematic racism within the criminal justice system, those who are unable to vote because of felony convictions or other criminal justice involvement are overwhelmingly people of color. In particular, many of the laws that remove voting rights based on criminal conviction have been historically intended to target African American voters. More information on these systemic issues can be found here.

This mixed-methods study staffed by nine WSSW PhD students is conducting original research this year.  The research results will be used to develop educational materials to improve the ways social workers serve people with criminal justice involvement.  We expect these results to be a key resource in advocacy for policy change and in helping social workers better serve those who are disenfranchised because of their criminal justice involvement. For more information, reach out to Dr. Lane at

Charmain Farrar is a second-year Ph.D. student interested in trauma treatment for African Americans and people of color.

She joined the CJSW project because she believes that once a person has paid the time for a crime, they have fulfilled their debt to society and should be granted a second chance as a full citizen with their full rights reinstated, not treated as a second-class citizen carrying the shame of a debt that was already paid.

Alexandra Fishman is a third-year Ph.D. student interested in religious discrimination on college campuses.

She joined the CJSW project to hone her qualitative and quantitative skills and make a difference in the social work practitioner community.

Amitai Glicksman is in his first year of Wurzweiler’s Ph.D. program and is interested in research on the legal and political side of social work, specifically in areas relating to socioeconomic issues such as poverty, education, and healthcare.

Amitai believes voting is the cornerstone of American democracy and the only way to ensure people are genuinely represented by, rather than simply subject to, government.

He is excited to be a part of the CJSW project as a great opportunity to strengthen research skills while dealing with topics he is passionate about and which he believes are central to the American experience.

Eden Mitrany is a first-year Ph.D. student and a passionate advocate for domestic violence survivors.

Eden has joined the CJSW research team to contribute to efforts being made to expand voting rights. Exercising one’s right to vote is a precious democratic value that Eden hopes to impart to future generations.

Chantee Parris-Strigle is a MSW/Ph.D. student and a new first-time mom as of November 2021 who has worked with people diagnosed with intellectual disabilities as well as at-risk young women in high school.

Her motivation to join the CJSW team came from the time spent working as a former educator that made her aware of the school-to-prison pipeline as well as being inspired by Michelle Alexander and her research in the book The New Jim Crow.

Batya Pekar is a third-year Ph.D. student interested in working with military-related issues. She joined this project because she is passionate about giving a voice to people and issues that often aren’t given a voice.

Voting is an often overlooked but important way of giving voices to disenfranchised people including those in the military who are impacted both by voting policies and the criminal justice system.

Zhong (Anastasia) Wang is a fifth-year Ph.D. student interested in policy analysis, aging, disadvantaged children and education.

She joined the CJSW project for a better understanding of policy implementation and advocacy.

Dena Werner is a second-year Ph.D. student interested in the intersections of mental and physical health.

She joined the CJSW project to solidify her research skills and to obtain a deeper understanding of the barriers impacting marginalized communities from attaining a better quality of life.

Melanie Zuckerman is a third-year Ph.D. student primarily interested in criminal justice research.

She is excited to be working on this research around voting rights and hopes that it will lead more social workers to consider how they can impact their clients’ access to and awareness about their own rights.