Skip to main content

Social Work Day focuses on juvenile justice issues

Image of juvenile behind bars

Image from Richard Ross.

“A Call to Action: Disrupting the (In)Justice of the School to Prison Pipeline” will be the theme of the 2016 Social Work Day Conference from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday, March 28, in Illinois State University’s Bone Student Center Prairie Room.

Social work professionals and students will gather to take a critical look at the juvenile justice system, negative consequences of the application of discipline policies in schools, and the disproportionality of marginalized youth who are impacted by educational and juvenile justice policies. For a complete conference agenda, visit the conference website.

“The topics of social justice and of challenging the incarceration rate in the United States are very timely,” said Diane Zosky, chair of Illinois State’s School of Social Work. “The rise of social movements such as Black Lives Matter and the increased attention to issues of disproportionality have opened an important national discussion.”

Conference speakers will provide creative and hopeful responses that will build the future needed to disrupt the “disposal” of valuable young lives.

Elizabeth Clarke, president and founder of the Juvenile Justice Initiative (JJI), will present “Disrupting the Injustice in Juvenile Justice Polices: Reclaiming Our Young People.” A non-profit advocacy organization, JJI works to transform the juvenile justice system in Illinois by reducing reliance on confinement, enhancing fairness for all youth, and developing community-based resources throughout the state.

Gilman Whiting, associate professor of African American and Diaspora Studies at Vanderbilt University, will present “Disrupting Identity From At Risk to At Promise: Developing Scholar Identities Among Black Males.” Whiting’s research includes race, sports, and American culture; educational disparity; welfare reform; and fatherhood initiatives. Whiting is the creator of the Scholar Identity Model and consults with school districts nationally and internationally.

Beth Hatt, associate professor in the Department of Educational Administration and Foundations at Illinois State, and Eric Meiners, a professor in the College of Education at Northeastern Illinois University, will present “Disrupting the School to Prison Pipeline: Building a World We Need.”

David Feiner, co-founder and producing artistic director of the Albany Park Theater Project (APTP), will discuss the artistic work and the social justice mission of the Chicago-based youth theater program. Feiner will be joined by alumni and current students in the program. APTP creates and stages original plays based on real-life stories.