The primary purpose of the Public Defender Social Worker is to provide technical assistance in the areas of behavioral health (depression, substance use, interpersonal violence) and mental health.

Duties include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Visit clients in the jail to conduct the initial assessments, screenings, and interviews.
  • Maintain an ongoing relationship with client while the client’s case is pending.
  • Work with local jails to ensure clients are being treated and receiving the proper mediations, if appropriate.
  • Interview family, friends, teachers, and employers to obtain a complete picture of the client’s situation.
    Investigate backgrounds and conduct assessments and screenings of clients to determine mental health, physical, social issues, and/or substance abuse disorders.
  • Obtain clients’ records from all relevant sources; review records; and prepare summary of records.
    Coordinate with other professionals to evaluate the client.
  • Develop mitigation evidence for pre-trial negotiations and trial purposes.
  • Assist with trial preparation in felony cases in which mitigation will be used.
  • Testify in court and/or present findings in the context of plea negotiations and conferences.
  • Work independently and coordinate with attorneys to provide case management and placement services for clients.
  • Establish and maintain a database of local and state services and treatment options for each county.
  • Lead in-house training sessions for other office workers.

This position reports to the Public Defender.

Requirements
  • Knowledge of:  social work; placement and treatment options in the local community; screening diagnostic tools for client interviews including evidence-based risk and other assessment instruments; local jail policy and procedures; and mitigation.
  • Skills in:  strong oral and written communication, organizational, and time management skills.  Computers and word processing to prepare reports, summaries, mitigation notebooks, and any other relevant documents.
  • Ability to:  schedule work to achieve results on time; prepare and use assessment screenings for use in matching clients to placement services and developing mitigation factors; work with jails to ensure proper treatment for client; make pertinent observations and analyze those observations in the context of the client's case; and interface and build relationships with people of diverse backgrounds.
Minimum Education and Experience Requirements
  • Graduation from a four-year college or university, preferably in the field of counseling, psychology, criminal justice, social work, or other related human services field, and experience in the legal system.
  • Management prefers applicants with experience in alternative treatment and/or placement facilities throughout North Carolina and outside of North Carolina.
  • Familiarity with evidence-based screening and assessment; and funding sources for treatment and/or placement facilities.