The mission of the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (Center) is to engage in University-community partnerships that advance knowledge about effective social welfare policies, programs, and services and promote social, racial and economic justice.
As a unit of the Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the Center involves faculty and staff in public service and research activities that address the social conditions and needs of urban communities, families and children, and especially those who are poor. The Center conducts research and evaluation studies, analyzes public policies, disseminates research findings, tests new program models and service delivery strategies, and provides assistance to organizational leaders in implementing policy directives.
Publications, community forums, conference presentations and other public appearances, workshops and trainings, films, and social media are among the different means the Center uses to inform the public and increase awareness of social conditions. The criminal justice system, human rights, and health equity provide the focus for most Center work.
Phone: (312) 996-3219
Room: 4010 ETMSW
BS, Bluefield State College
MSSA, Case Western Reserve University
PhD, Case Western Reserve University
Phone: (312) 996-8286
Room: 4014 ETMSW
BFA, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
MFA, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale
Phone: (312) 413-4233
1640 West Roosevelt Road, Suite 534
Chicago, IL 60608
BSW, University of Illinois at Chicago
MSW, University of Illinois at Chicago
Phone: (312) 996-0035
Room: 4404 ETMSW
MA, Benin National University
MEd, Benin National University
MSW, Washington University in St. Louis
PhD, University of Illinois at Chicago
Just Living Life
Under the direction of Dean Creasie Finney Hairston, and based in Memphis, Tennessee, Just Living Life is a study of the daily lives of Black men living in a mixed income, though primarily poor, urban community. Using interviews and focus groups, the study explores the challenges and problems men face and the strategies they use to bounce back from adversities. It examines Black men’s views of their primary roles and strengths, their perceptions of home and community life and their thoughts about community services and programs. Initial findings convey the extensive criminal justice system presence in many men’s lives and their limited use of, access to, and knowledge of formal services, including basic health services.
Just Living Life is one of a series of studies examining the impact of criminal justice system involvement on family and community life. Others include Strickland’s study of the post-prison employment experiences of African American men and evaluation of a correctional boot camp program.
Consultation and technical assistance is an important public service for the College and an important element of Center work. Center staff collaborate with College faculty in helping community based organizations build capacity, assess programs, obtain funding, and address changing community conditions and problems. Examples of recent and ongoing work include:
• Providing technical assistance and training on domestic violence and prisoners’ community reentry to grantees of the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW). In addition to conducting training for grantees, the Center provided policy and practice briefings for Federal agency administrators and program officers and recommendations to improve, support, and sustain domestic violence prevention efforts of non-profit and criminal justice agencies.
• Helping Starting All Over Outreach Ministry, a faith-based grassroots organization in Memphis, Tennessee, build capacity and establish an infrastructure for external support. Staff experiences were documented and are serving as the foundation for a series on ways to support grassroots and faith-based organizations in providing effective prisoner reentry services and in building resource networks in poor, urban communities.
• Hosting the office of Citizens Alert, a grassroots prison reform organization that has been instrumental in bringing about major police reforms, and staffing the Chicago Coalition for Police Reform. The Center documented the history of Citizens Alert and facilitated the placement of Citizens Alert’s organizational records in the UIC Library archives.
• Documenting the history and accomplishments of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), a national grassroots prison reform organization.
• In partnership with the Illinois African American Family Commission, staffing the Illinois Commission to End Disparities in the African American Community. The two-year long project included convening community meetings throughout Illinois to hear testimony from residents, conducting fact finding via literature reviews and analysis of Illinois social indicators data and participating in meetings with Illinois legislators to discuss findings and recommendations. Center staff also co-authored sections of the Commission’s December 2013 report.
• Providing policy level assistance to State of Illinois agencies in addressing and coordinating mental health service reforms required by three consent decrees. This work builds on the Center’s prior work in addressing state-wide issues and its demonstrated ability to bring together different constituencies around critical social needs.
Multiple means are used to raise community awareness and inform diverse publics about social conditions and needs, effective interventions, and program resources. Activities include publishing papers, sponsoring forums and conferences, and producing short films and documentaries.
On November 29, 2017, the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research convened a second Summit on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging. Participants included community partners, former prisoners and family of prisoners, as well as public policy stakeholders such as the Director of the Illinois Dept. of Corrections, the Deputy Director of the IDHS Mental Health Division, a Senior Administrator from the Illinois Dept. of Aging, and a Director from the John Howard Association.
In this video, Summit participants talk about the issues facing returning citizens, as well as the importance of such events:
The Center provides the administrative home for the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, a multidisciplinary, peer-reviewed journal presenting empirical research and critical analyses of criminal justice program policies, practices, and services. The journal is edited by Center Director Creasie Finney Hairston and published by Routledge, a major academic press.
The journal serves as a professional resource for practitioners, educators and researchers who work with individuals involved in the criminal justice system and study the dynamics of rehabilitation and individual and system change.
A primary journal focus is the use of research to inform and improve correctional policies and practice. The range of topics included in the journal is broad and encompasses alternatives to incarceration; community reentry and reintegration; alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment interventions; services for correctional populations with special needs; recidivism prevention strategies; educational and vocational programs; families and incarceration; culturally appropriate practice and probation and parole services.
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall is a moving cinéma vérité documentary that breaks through the walls of one of America’s oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner and the hospice volunteers, themselves prisoners, who care for him.
The film draws from footage shot over a six-month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated.
The documentary was nominated for the Academy Award in 2014 and has had an extremely successful national broadcast run on HBO. The film received additional awards and honors including the Cine Golden Eagle Award, the Wilbur Award from the Religion Communicators Council, Best Short Subject Documentary nomination from the International Documentary Association as well as voted Best Documentary Short from the Council on Social Work Education.
In addition to presenting the film at universities and professional conferences nationally and internationally, Barens is touring U.S. prisons to inform and educate prison administrators and health care providers on the humane and positive impact of prison hospice care as the population of elderly and infirm prisoners increases.
Conferences and forums provide an important and effective means for engaging people from different backgrounds and interests in constructive dialogue and discourse about critical social issues. When held on campus and/or widely advertised in the social media they also raise the visibility of the Center, the College, and the greater UIC community.
Past forums and events include:
A Summit on Reentry, Reintegration and Aging (2017) – Learn more »
Panel Discussion on Sex Trafficking (2016) – Learn More »
Transforming Justice: Mobilizing Incarcerated Mothers and Young Women through Community Action (2016) – Learn more »
Perspectives by the Policed: A Forum on Building Community Justice (2015)
Dads, the Streets, and the Criminal Justice System (2014)