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Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research

About the Center
Center Staff
Current and Recent Research Studies
Service Programs
Consultation and Technical Assistance
Community Education and Public Awareness Activities
Contact Us

About the Center

The mission of the Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (Center) is to engage in University-community partnerships which advance knowledge about effective social welfare policies, programs, and services and promote social, racial and economic justice. As an administrative unit of the Jane Addams College of Social Work (College) at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), the Center involves faculty and staff in public service and research activities which address the social conditions and needs of urban communities, families and children, especially those who are poor. The Center conducts research and evaluation studies, analyzes public policies, disseminates research findings, holds forums on important policy issues, tests new program models and service delivery strategies and provides assistance to organizational leaders in implementing policy directives. Two major themes - the impact of incarceration on children, families, and communities and services that promote health access and equity - are at the heart of Center work. Projects and programs in related areas complement these main foci.

Center Staff

Dean Creasie Finney Hairston Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD

Creasie Finney Hairston provides overall direction for the Center’s research and policy initiatives. She is Dean and Professor of the Jane Addams College of Social Work and Editor of the Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. She is one of the pioneers in the development of family programs for correctional populations, and has conducted research and written extensively on the impact of incarceration on families and communities. Dr. Hairston’s research focuses on families and the criminal justice system and the impact of social policies and services on poor families and communities.

Joseph Strickland Joseph Strickland, PhD
Research Specialist and Center Coordinator

Joseph Strickland is a Research Specialist and Center Coordinator. He is responsible for managing and supporting the Center's research projects and organizing forums to disseminate key findings. Dr. Strickland's research interests focus primarily on criminal justice, community violence and youth empowerment. He has received several awards for his community outreach work. Dr. Strickland received his doctoral degree from the Jane Addams College of Social Work.

Marybel Flores Marybel Flores, MSW
Central West Case Management Unit Director

Marybel Flores leads the Center's major service project, Central West Case Management Unit. A graduate of the College's MSW program, she has held the director position since 2005. Prior to this position, she was a Medical Social Worker at the Methodist Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois.

Edgar Barens Edgar Barens, MFA
Media Specialist, Documentary Filmmaker

Edgar Barens directs and produces award-winning documentary films that explore the many issues at play in the American criminal justice system. His body of work includes documentary films, experimental shorts, music videos and public service announcements, which have been screened at film festivals, conferences, broadcast nationally and internationally, as well as distributed educationally. He received his Bachelor's degree and Master of Fine Arts in Cinema and Photography from Southern Illinois University. His film Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall was nominated for an Academy Award in the documentary short subject category in 2014. In addition to the Oscar nomination, Prison Terminal was also nominated for an International Documentary Award and garnered the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle in 2014. Prior to Prison Terminal, Barens' most significant documentary film was A Sentence of Their Own for which he won the CINE Golden Eagle and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency PASS Award - the only national award recognizing filmmakers who focus on our criminal justice system in a thoughtful and considerate manner.

Keland Nance, MA
Research Specialist

Keland Nance is a Research Specialist with the Just Living Life research project based in Memphis, Tennessee. He is also a Gang Interventionist in a School Outreach Program for Shelby County (Tennessee) Public Schools. Prior to these positions, he was a Project Coordinator at Starting All Over Outreach Ministry in Memphis, Tennessee. His experience includes coordinating outreach services and helping community residents access community services.

Michael Durham
Research Specialist

Michael Durham is a Research Specialist with the Just Living Life research project based in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to this position, he served as program associate at Starting All Over Outreach Ministry in Memphis, where he taught GED classes and helped community residents access social services.

Suhad Tabahi, MSW
Research Assistant

Suhad Tabahi is a Research Assistant and a doctoral student at the Jane Addams College of Social Work. She is an Arabic-English translator and court advocate with organizations working against domestic violence in the Chicago area. Ms. Tabahi was involved in youth and grant development programs before joining the Center.

Charles Hounmenou Charles Hounmenou, PhD

Charles Hounmenou is a consultant for the Center's Justice Advocates series. Formerly, he served as research specialist at the Center. In this position, he conducted research on human trafficking, prison reform, and police brutality, and served as the Editorial Assistant for the Center-hosted Journal of Offender Rehabilitation. Dr. Hounmenou's recent research includes studies of child prostitution in Benin, Burkina Faso, and Niger.

Current and Recent Research Studies

Strengthening Co-parenting to Facilitate Reentry of Mothers Detained for Substance Abuse Related Crimes: A Pilot Study

Principal Investigator: James Gleeson, PhD
This pilot research study tested the use of a treatment intervention for mothers incarcerated at Cook County Jail and the caregivers of their children.

Preventing Recidivism of Boot Camp Participants

Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This study evaluated how well equipped boot camp participants were to reenter their communities and the role the boot camp plays in that preparation.

Just Living Life

Principal Investigator: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD
Co-Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This research is studying the experiences of Black men who live in inner city communities and exploring their views about, and use of, community resources. The study also examines how Black men living in disadvantaged communities survive and go about daily living despite a host of risk factors and major disadvantages. The information will be used to help inform the development of more effective, appropriate, and culturally sensitive social policies and social services.

Building Social Capital for Stable Employment: The Post Prison Experience of Black Male Ex-Prisoners

Principal Investigator: Joseph Strickland, PhD
This research examined employment experiences of former prisoners and the ways they build and use social networks. This study documented Black male former prisoners' experiences in finding and maintaining employment. The study also examined whether and how Black male ex-offenders access and mobilize support from formal and informal sources. The research views men's employment status as both an individual issue and a social justice concern.

Human Trafficking in Illinois

Principal Investigator: Charles Hounmenou, PhD
This research project explored how human service organizations in a state-wide human trafficking coalition implement state level human trafficking policies. Strengths and limitations of services for victims of trafficking were also examined.

Service Programs

Central West Case Management Unit

Started as a demonstration project several years ago, the Central West Case Management Unit now provides case management services for 12 hospitals and over 5,000 frail, older adults living in Chicago's west side neighborhoods. In addition, the Unit serves as a research site for faculty and doctoral students and field placement site for MSW student interns. The Unit is known as one of the best in the State and is frequently used to pilot new procedures and policy changes. Originally funded solely by contracts with the Chicago and Illinois Departments on Aging to serve only older adults, the Affordable Care Act has allowed the Center to expand the funding and service base to include younger adults who are recipients of Medicaid.

Mental Health Training

With a workforce development agreement with the State of Illinois Division of Mental Health and in response to behavioral health policy reforms, the Center is expanding its health care service and program evaluation agenda. Under this agreement the Center is providing curriculum development, training and assessments for staff of newly designated Specialized Mental Health Rehabilitation Facilities.

Consultation and Technical Assistance

Consultation and technical assistance is an important public service for the College and an important element of Center work. Center staff collaborate with College faculty in helping community based organizations build capacity, assess programs, obtain funding, and address changing community conditions and problems. Examples of recent and ongoing work include:

  • Providing technical assistance and training on domestic violence and prisoners’ community reentry to grantees of the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women (OVW).  In addition to conducting training for grantees, the Center provided policy and practice briefings for Federal agency administrators and program officers and recommendations to improve, support, and sustain domestic violence prevention efforts of non-profit and criminal justice agencies.

  • Helping Starting All Over Outreach Ministry, a faith-based grassroots organization in Memphis, Tennessee, build capacity and establish an infrastructure for external support. Staff experiences were documented and are serving as the foundation for a series on ways to support grassroots and faith-based organizations in providing effective prisoner reentry services and in building resource networks in poor, urban communities.

  • Hosting the office of Citizens Alert, a grassroots prison reform organization that has been instrumental in bringing about major police reforms, and staffing the Chicago Coalition for Police Reform. The Center documented the history of Citizens Alert and facilitated the placement of Citizens Alert's organizational records in the UIC Library archives.

  • Documenting the history and accomplishments of Citizens United for Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE), a national grassroots prison reform organization.

  • In partnership with the Illinois African American Family Commission, staffing the Illinois Commission to End Disparities in the African American Community. The two-year long project included convening community meetings throughout Illinois to hear testimony from residents, conducting fact finding via literature reviews and analysis of Illinois social indicators data and participating in meetings with Illinois legislators to discuss findings and recommendations. Center staff also co-authored sections of the Commission's December 2013 report.

  • Providing policy level assistance to State of Illinois agencies in addressing and coordinating mental health service reforms required by three consent decrees. This work builds on the Center's prior work in addressing state-wide issues and its demonstrated ability to bring together different constituencies around critical social needs.

Community Education and Public Awareness Activities

Multiple means are used to raise community awareness and inform diverse publics about social conditions and needs, effective interventions, and program resources. Activities include publishing papers, sponsoring forums and conferences, and producing short films and documentaries.

Journal of Offender Rehabilitation

Journal of Offender Rehabilitation

Publisher: Routledge Press

Editor: Creasie Finney Hairston, PhD

The Journal of Offender Rehabilitation - hosted at the Center - is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal covering research, policies, programs, and services in corrections and criminal justice. The Journal serves as a professional resource for practitioners and educators who work with individuals involved in the criminal justice system and study the dynamics of rehabilitation and system change. The range of topics included in the Journal is broad and encompasses alternatives to incarceration; community reentry and reintegration; alcohol, substance abuse and mental health treatment interventions; services for correctional populations with special needs; recidivism prevention strategies; educational and vocational programs; families and incarceration; culturally appropriate practice and probation and parole services.

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall is a cinéma vérité documentary that breaks through the walls of one of America's oldest maximum security prisons to tell the story of the final months in the life of a terminally ill prisoner and the hospice volunteers, they themselves prisoners, who care for him. The film draws from footage shot over a six-month period behind the walls of the Iowa State Penitentiary and provides a fascinating and often poignant account of how the hospice experience can profoundly touch even the forsaken lives of the incarcerated. After a very well received three-month broadcast on HBO, Barens is taking the award-winning film out on the road this spring on the Prison Terminal 50 Prisons in 100 Days Tour. While on this 100-day tour the film will be screened at correctional facilities interested in starting a prison hospice program behind their own walls as well as at community hospice centers, universities, non-profit organizations, community groups and houses of worship. The prison tour is funded by a grant from the Fledgling Fund.

The Conference flyer on "Relationship Matters: Black Dads, the Streets and the Justice System"

Families and the Justice System Forums

The Center co-sponsored a one-day conference on "Relationship Matters: Black Dads, the Streets and the Justice System" at the UIC Forum on April 2, 2014. Co-sponsored with the Alliance of Local Service Organizations (ALSO) and Treatement Alternatives for Safe Communities (TASC) the conference drew participants from across the city and surrounding suburbs and national media attention. A conference highlight was the awards ceremony recognizing former prisoners for their positive post-prison accomplishments and community service.


Human Trafficking in Illinois - Fact Sheet. C. Hounmenou, 2016.

Justice Advocates: CURE and Prison Reform. C. Hounmenou, 2014.

Justice Advocates: Citizens Alert and Police Accountability. C. Hounmenou, 2012.

Justice Advocates: Citizens Alert and Police Accountability Timeline. C. Hounmenou, 2012.

Policy Responses to Human Trafficking in Illinois: Learning from the State's Rescue and Restore Coalition. C. Hounmenou, 2010.

Exploring a Statewide Coalition Involved in Human Trafficking Policy Implementation. Research Brief. C. E. Hounmenou, 2010.

Standards for Monitoring Human Rights of People in Police Lockups. C. E. Hounmenou, 2010.

Groundbreakers: A Look at Award Winning Social Work Managers (2007).

Women Prisoners and Recidivism: Factors Associated with Re-Arrest One Year Post-Release. R.E. Bates. 2004.

Family Connections During Imprisonment and Prisoners' Community Reentry. C.F. Hairston, J. Rollin, & H.J. Jo, 2004.

Children and Families of Incarcerated Parents: A View from the Ground. R.E. Bates, S. Lawrence-Wills, & C.F. Hairston, 2003.

Serving Incarcerated Mothers and their Babies in Community-Based Residences. C.F. Hairston, R.E. Bates, & S. Lawrence-Wills, 2003.

Contact Us

Jane Addams Center for Social Policy and Research (MC 309)
Jane Addams College of Social Work
University of Illinois at Chicago
1040 West Harrison Street
Chicago, IL 60607
Phone: (312) 996-3219
E-mail: policycenter@uic.edu