Sophia Sarantakos

Sophia Sarantakos

Assistant Professor

What I do

I’m working to build a world where harm and need are approached with collective care, and anti-Blackness, profits, and retribution are no longer our guiding lights. The focus of my research is to reduce the size, scope, and power of the prison-industrial complex (PIC). I bring the liberatory framework of PIC abolition into every class that I teach, and am dedicated to helping us all unlearn the dangerous mythologies we’ve been taught so that new ways of knowing and being can take hold.

Specialization(s)

Radical social change work; Law, punishment, and social control; Risk/need logics; Prison-industrial complex abolition

Professional Biography

Prior to entering academia, Dr. Sarantakos was a social work practitioner for ten years. During that time, they developed and directed the first jail diversion program in the state of Louisiana, housed in the New Orleans public defenders office. This professional experience, along with their personal experiences with school pushout, the juvenile legal punishment system, and the incarceration of a loved one, helped lead them to a politic focused on root causes.

Dr. Sarantakos' current research focuses on contributing to the advancement of community-based approaches to harm and need, as well as exploring the future of social change work. They are questioning how the "profession" of social work can directly and effectively connect to the work of large-scale social movements and advance their aims. Dr. Sarantakos is developing ideas for how social work education can be altered to more readily prepare students to support social movements, not only in moments of social upheaval, but in preparation for them. This inquiry also includes thinking through how practitioners and social service organizations can “de-professionalize” and leverage their positions and resources to propel progress.

Dr. Sarantakos leads the prison-industrial complex (PIC) abolition workgroup for the American Academy of Social Work & Social Welfare’s Promote Smart Decarceration Grand Challenge. There they organize and collaborate with other legal system–focused scholars to increase social work’s understanding of PIC abolition, and its alignment with social work values and ethics. Along with teaching the foundation course “Integrated Social Work Practice for Social Justice,” Dr. Sarantakos teaches an “Introduction to PIC Abolition” course for MSW students.

Degree(s)

  • Ph.D., Social Service Administration, University of Chicago, 2020
  • MSW, Social Work, Tulane University, 2006
  • BS, Business Administration, Marist College, 2004

Licensure / Accreditations

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)