The author of this document has limited its availability to on-campus or logged-in CSUSB users only.

Off-campus CSUSB users: To download restricted items, please log in to our proxy server with your MyCoyote username and password.

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Project: Campus only access

Degree Name

Master of Social Work


School of Social Work

First Reader/Committee Chair

Heidemann, Gretchen


The study aimed at obtaining perspectives of social workers in working with the incarcerated population. Being that the incarcerated population may carry a stigma due to the crimes that they allegedly committed or have been convicted of committing, it comes to question if workers in the helping professions, such as social workers, that may be involved in the inmate’s rehabilitation process have any biases in working with this population.

Participants in the study included members from the National Association of Social Workers California chapter (NASW CA). NASW CA was chosen as the most appropriate entity through which to gather perspectives of social workers with varying demographics. The study was comprised of a survey emailed out to NASW CA members from a list generated by NASW CA, and the data was collected on the Qualtrics application. The eight main survey questions consisted of statements that are rated using a 5-point Likert scale from strongly disagree to strongly agree. The data was analyzed in the IBM SPSS v25 program. Participant demographics, including gender, ethnicity, age, years in field, and area of social work practice were also captured. The data was analyzed using descriptive and bivariate comparisons between specific participant demographics -such as gender (male/female) and ethnicity (white/non-white)- regarding their perspectives toward inmates. The survey was completed anonymously; termination was completed during the debriefing statement.

There were 45 participants in the study. Participant demographics include: 1) 82% female and 18% male; 2) 42% identified as non-white and 58% as white; 3) 40% have worked in the social work field for 0-10 years and 60% have been in the field for more than 10 years; 4) 56% were between the ages of 18-45 and 44% were above 45 years old; 5) 40% have experience working in Child Welfare while the other 60% do not; and 6) 47% have direct experience working with inmates while 53% do not. Bivariate analyses revealed four statistically significant differences between specific demographic groups, including: 1) participants who do not have experience working in child welfare are more likely than those who do have experience to feel like they are putting themselves in danger by working with inmates; 2) participants who have 0-10 years’ experience in the field are more likely than those with more than 10 years’ experience to feel like they are putting themselves in danger by working with inmates; 3) participants who indicated an age above 45 years old are more likely than those under 45 years old to think that inmates have rights and should have access to services; and 4) participants who indicated having direct experience working with inmates were more likely to feel comfortable working with inmates than participants who do not have direct experience. There are implications for micro and macro social work practice, which include exposure to this population while in a social work program and further training in cultural competency to reduce bias toward this population and ensure full and equal access to social work services.