1st Edition

Criminal Defense-Based Forensic Social Work

Edited By Ashley Ratliff, Maren Willins Copyright 2019
    182 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    182 Pages 12 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book draws upon the Colorado Model of Criminal Defense-Based Forensic Social Work – a holistic, client-centered, collaborative approach that uses a trauma-informed care framework – to outline the numerous roles and skills of a forensic social worker. The comprehensive, developmentally informed model employs a past (e.g., mitigation themes and life history compilation), present (e.g., client contact and current functioning support), and future (e.g., reentry services) framework to provide mitigation narratives for defendants and to create a comprehensive approach to service.

    The text starts with an overview of practice standards, ethical considerations, and legal frameworks. Next, chapters examine the unique roles that a forensic social worker must take on and the skills they need to possess. These include using clinical interventions with clients in nonclinical settings, working with clients of different identities and backgrounds, assisting with reentry planning for incarcerated clients, and collaborating with experts outside of the defense team. Finally, the authors provide strategies for practitioners to engage in their own self-care. 

    Interwoven with four case studies using the Colorado Model, this book will be valuable reading for graduate schools of social work, law school programs which have clinics or direct practice components to legal studies, and at defender agencies who contract with or employ social workers on staff.  

    Foreword Tina Maschi Preface Ashley Ratliff & Jacoba Rock 1. Introduction and Overview Ashley Ratliff & Marty Beyer 2. Guiding Principles of Practice: A Critical Interdisciplinary Approach Toward Effective Client Representation and Advocacy Ashley Ratliff & Maren Willins 3. Roles of the Forensic Social Worker Molly Hennessey & Maren Willins 4. Skills Maren Willins & Hillary Vervalin 5. Cultural Humility and Special Populations Claire Schmidt & Molly Hennessey 6. Work Product (Written, Demonstrative, Oral) Hillary Vervalin & Kathleen McGuire 7. Forensic Social Work and Collaboration with Expert Witnesses Hillary Vervalin, Ashley Ratliff & Kathleen McGuire 8. Self-Care Maren Willins & Ashley Ratliff


    Ashley Ratliff, JD, MSW, has been a juvenile defense attorney in Colorado for over 10 years. Ms. Ratliff is an expert in comprehensive, holistic child-centered litigation for youth prosecuted in adult and juvenile courts. She currently leads the Youth in Adult Court Litigation Committee for the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center (CJDC) and is an adjunct professor at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work.

    Maren Willins, LCSW, is a criminal defense-based forensic social worker and psychotherapist in the Denver metro area. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has been working in the public and private criminal justice field for over 15 years. Ms. Willins has also had her own psychotherapy private practice for over 10 years, in which she provides solution-focused and client-centered therapy for individuals as well as supervision to new social workers. 

    "Criminal Defense-Based Forensic Social Work describes social workers who appreciate the needs of clients and effectively tell their stories to achieve developmentally-sound justice. Their innovative approach as part of the defense team, the diverse social work talents required, and their skillful collaboration with families and others are demonstrated through four clients woven into the book’s eight information-packed chapters. Criminal Defense-Based Forensic Social Work is inspiring for all of us working in juvenile and criminal court!"

    Marty Beyer, PhD, juvenile justice and child welfare consultant

    "After working over 25 years in forensic practice, it is great to have a book that examines the practice of defensed-based forensic social work. The contributors have provided us with a great tool for enhancing our knowledge and teaching, while educating the criminal justice community. The book reveals the most critical aspects and duties required by social workers involved in criminal defense work."

    Lori James-Townes, MSW-LCSW-C, Lecturer, Department of Family Studies & Community Development, Towson University

    "This book provides valuable information about the variety of pertinent issues that a forensic social worker encounters. What is most helpful about the format of the book is the comprehensive yet concise manner in which a multitude of information is delivered. Criminal Defense-Based Forensic Social Work is an important contribution to the field of forensic social work. I highly recommend this book to any new or seasoned forensic social worker!"

    Carol Heinisch, MA, LCSW, Colorado State Public Defenders Office