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Social work has a long tradition in the prison system. However, current developments in the correctional system towards increased punitiveness, security and administration pose challenges for social work. In addition, social work professionals in the correctional system represent only a small proportion of employees, while they make an important contribution to the rehabilitating function of the correctional system.

The project aims to explore social work in correctional institutions in Switzerland. Social work encompasses more than just the activities of social work professionals within the prison walls, but also includes elements (actors, situations, logics, instruments, etc.) that contribute to rehabilitation, resocialisation and empowerment. The aim is to understand what social work consists of in this context, who contributes to it and which references beyond the prison walls are important.

For this purpose, an ethnographic approach in five correctional institutions in Switzerland is chosen. In addition to observations, interviews, document analysis and visual-material methods such as mapping will be used. The analysis will contribute to a deeper understanding of social work in prisons. In addition to academic knowledge production, the results will also be of practical and political use. Activities (e.g. workshops) will be developed with and for practitioners in order to communicate and discuss the results and to translate them into practice-relevant approaches, instruments or activities.

A project of the research group CrimSo