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Field Education Office Professional Development Workshop

BSW Cording & MSW Hooding

Dana DeHart, PhD

Making Change Happen

Why do people commit crimes? Dr. Dana DeHart has developed an impressive research agenda to help answer that question, enhancing our understanding of the etiology of crime.

Much of Dr. DeHart’s research includes interviews and focus groups of incarcerated women and girls. She has discovered stories of abuse, sexual exploitation, and corruption by caregivers in their pasts, which often directly lead to their criminal behavior. On the other hand, the women and girls have also been able to identify things in their lives that they are proud of, such as the birth of a child or helping care for a sick relative. Dr. DeHart analyzes these stories and makes recommendations that social workers and advocates can use to create programs that address the trauma in girls’ and women’s lives before they enter the criminal justice system.

Dr. DeHart is also interested in the ways that incarceration affects families. For example, children who have an incarcerated parent often have to move in with a relative or enter foster care, adjusting to a new home and a new school. Adults who are released from prison often struggle to find employment. Dr. DeHart hopes that her research will lead to the creation of programs and policies that help coordinate service systems and ease negative effects of incarceration on families and communities.

Research Background

Trained as a social psychologist, Dr. DeHart uses community-engaged, mixed-methods research to address the etiology, dynamics, and impacts of violent crime. She explores both victimization and perpetration of violence, and her translational research methods help link community partners with the knowledge and skills needed to address crime victimization through survivor-informed practice and policy.

DeHart Dana 17

Contact Information
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  • 803.777.7867
  • pdf icon tinyCurriculum Vita
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