Laura Abrams, professor and chair of the social welfare department in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, has received the 2020 Society for Social Work and Research Book Award for her book “Everyday Desistance: The Transition to Adulthood Among Formerly Incarcerated Youth.”
The book, co-authored with UCLA alumna Diane Terry, examines the lives of youth who spent considerable time in correctional institutions as adolescents. Abrams and Terry chronicle how previously incarcerated youth struggle with taking on adult responsibilities at a much younger age than their peers. Narrating the daily lives of these young men and women, the book focuses on their attempts to tackle the challenges of adulthood as well as their resistance to return to criminal activity.
Abrams’ research focuses on improving the well-being of young people with a history of incarceration. Her studies have examined youths’ experiences of criminality, risk and institutions seeking to reshape their identities through both therapeutic and punitive practices. Abrams has previously served as an expert witness on criminal cases involving minors, and she has also provided congressional testimony regarding treatment and reintegration in the juvenile justice system. In 2019, she was elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.
Abrams and her co-author received the award on Jan. 18, during the annual conference of the Society for Social Work and Research in Washington, D.C.