Book review on forensic social work in the 21st century

Roles and Functions

The Introduction to David W. Springer and Albert R. Roberts’ book, Handbook of Forensic Mental Health With Victims and Offenders: Assessment, Treatment, and Research, covers the topic of “ Forensic Social Work in the 21st Century.” The introduction covers everything from crime statistics to suggestions on academic programs for students of forensic social work. The authors believe that forensic social work provides a critical interdisciplinary link allowing useful services to be provided for survivors of crime.

Forensic Social Work in the 21st Century:

Roles and Functions

In their Introduction, the authors present the growing importance of social work’s forensic practitioners for victims, offenders, and the public in the 21st century. The past ten years began a new, positive attitude toward “ providing full federal, state, and local funding for comprehensive social services” and many other services to crime victims (Springer and Roberts, 2007, p. 3). Springer and Roberts (2007) ask, “ What is being done to advocate for, and deliver, critically needed social services and interventions to survivors of violent crimes?” (p. 3). It is important to realize that both victim and offender may be included in the definition of one who has survived a violent crime.
There is a need for interdisciplinary training for social forensic practitioners. The chances are great that the practitioner will be working with a great variety of people and programs including “ child protective services, guardian ad litem programs, juvenile offender treatment programs, mitigation services, victim services, witness assistance programs, domestic violence shelters . . . police, court personnel, attorneys, and corrections officers” (Springer and Roberts, 2007, p. 13). Springer and Roberts emphasize the need for academic programs in forensic social work to include criminal-justice, psychology, and social work departments because it is important that students in these fields learn from each other (2007, p. 10).
The lack of forensic social work related articles published in the Social Work journal confounds Springer and Roberts, who see the emerging field as one of critical importance in the 21st century. However, the authors conclude that other wide-reaching publications such as Research on Social Work Practice provide hope that important developments in the field of forensic social work today will receive wide readership, attention, interest, and influence (Springer & Roberts, 2007, p. 21).


Springer, David W. & Roberts, Albert R. (2007). Handbook of Forensic Mental Health With Victims and Offenders: Assessment, Treatment, and Research. New York, NY: Springer.