About the Office of Forensic Social Work Research and Training

The office of Forensic Social Work Research and Training was established to explore questions and issues related to the application of professional social work expertise to legal matters. Forensic social work is one of the fastest growing sub-specialties in the profession of social work. Broadly speaking, it refers to the various interactions between the fields of law and social work.

The primary mission of the office is to promote social work's contributions to the understanding of law and the legal system with a special focus on investigating child welfare, mental health, and criminal justice/law interactions. The goals of the office are to:

  • Promote research and evaluation of forensic social work practice.
  • Educate social workers in forensic matters and legal personnel in social work matters.
  • Conduct research on the assessment, classification, and treatment of adult and juvenile offenders.
  • Contribute to the development of best practices for treating victims of crime.
  • Research mental health issues in the civil and the criminal justice systems.
  • Promote the establishment of community partnerships with courts and justice agencies concerned with the continuous improvement of social work and law interactions.

The Office currently is involved in projects dealing with institutional reform litigation for the seriously mentally ill, mitigation of criminal punishment in capital murder cases, reducing violent recidivism in offenders diagnosed with serious mental disorders, group trauma and abuse interventions for treating at-risk women in community and in prison settings, exploring juvenile and adult criminal behavior and mental health interactions, and identifying offender profiles for serious juvenile offenders.

The Office research projects involve bachelors and graduate students, community partners and research partners from other universities.

The office will be responsible for advising students involved in the School of Social Work’s joint MSW/JD and MSW/MLS programs.

Leadership and Affiliates 

Leadership and Affiliates

José B. Ashford, MSW, PhD, LCSW Director

Dominque Roe-Sepowitz, MSW, PhD Associate Director

Advisory Board Members
    Aaron J. Carreon-Ainsa, J.D, Chief Assistant City Prosecutor, City of Phoenix.
    Nancy Diggs, Court Monitor, Maricopa County Superior Court, Office of the Monitor.
    Andre Ivanoff, Associate Professor of Social Work, Columbia University School of Social Work. 
    Melissa Kupferberg, MSW.  Investigator Federal Public Defender Office, Tampa, Florida. 
    Ken Murray, BSW, JD, Assistant Federal Public Defender. Phoenix, Arizona
    Albert R. Roberts (deceased), Professor of Criminal Justice and Social Work, Rutgers University.
    Bruce D. Sales, PhD, J.D., Director of the Psychology and Law Program.  University of Arizona. 
    Luigi Solivetti, PhD, Research Fellow and Lecturer, Faculty of Statistical Sciences, University of 
Faculty Research Affiliates
    Peg Bortner, Community Resources and Development
    Evelyn Cruz, College of Law  
    Robert R. Dauber, College of Law
    Nora Gustafason, School of Social Work 
    Katie Karriker-Jaffer, University of California Berkley
    Yasmina Katsulis, Women and Gender Studies
    Judy Krysik, School of Social Work
    Christina Risley-Curtis, School of Social Work

Program Partners
    Arizona Department of Economic Security
    Arizona Capital Representation Project
    Office of the Court Monitor, Maricopa County Arizona
    City of Phoenix Diversion Programs, City Prosecutor’s Office
    Monterey County Department of Health Services

Graduate Student Research Affiliates
    Blythe Fitzharris
    Briana Frenzel
    Erica Galietta
    Valencia Johnson
    Candice Kochis
    Kristi Langhoff
    Janice Lynch
    Sylvia Martinez