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From The CriticsReviewer: Gary B Kaniuk, Psy.D. (Cermak Health Services)
Description: This is a fairly extensive handbook covering assessment and treatment with both juvenile and adult offenders, along with risk assessment and restorative justice (victim-offender) mediation.
Purpose: In the preface, the editors describe their purpose as providing "an authoritative resource on the delivery of evidence-based forensic mental health services with victims, offenders, and their families," noting, "the common thread that binds together the 25 chapters in this book is a collective response to the overarching question: What is being done to advocate for, and deliver, critically needed mental health interventions and social services to perpetrators and survivors of serious and violent crimes?"
Audience: The book is written for administrators, professionals, educators, and students in social work, psychology, and criminal justice. The editors and contributors are credible authorities. Dr. Springer is the associate dean for academic affairs, graduate advisor, and a university distinguished teaching professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. He is on the editorial board of several professional journals and has written numerous articles and book chapters. Dr. Roberts is a professor of social work at the School of Social Work at Rutgers University and has authored or edited over 30 books. They describe the contributors as a team of 45 justice, forensic, and mental health experts.
Features: After an introduction and overview in the first section, the remaining four sections review forensic risk assessment, roles, and specialized practices; juvenile justice process, assessment, and treatment; forensic services and programs for adult offenders; and restorative justice. The book is easy to read and practical, covering both juvenile and adult offenders with a nice section on restorative justice. It combines research with clinical practice and includes informative tables. Interesting chapters include those on risk assessment in the context of child maltreatment and domestic violence; psychopathic traits in juveniles; and cultural and gender considerations in restorative justice. The final chapter encourages the field of social work to develop educational curriculum for those individuals who want to work in the criminal justice field. The chapter author notes, "Enough social workers are working in justice settings to justify setting up an educational specialization in this area. It should not be fractionated into numerous subspecialties like forensics, probation, penal institutions, and so on. This would only perpetuate the problem that it would be designed to correct."
Assessment: There are no easy answers in this field, but the book provides social workers with tools in order to make their work more effective. It covers both assessment and treatment, supported by relevant research. This book would be a valuable acquisition for any social worker, especially those working in the criminal justice system.