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Member Profiles- Fall 2017

Section Editor: Venezia Michalsen

Mina Ratkalkar, LCSW, MS, CST
Ph.D. Student, Clinical Psychology, Forensic Psychology Concentration
Drexel University, Department of Psychology

How did you become interested in the field of women and/or gender and crime?

Prior to studying criminology, I was a clinical social worker and completed my certification in sex therapy. While I was working in felony sentencing in Florida, I realized that my clients' life experiences and sentences were deeply impacted by gendered expectations of masculinity and femininity. I found that my female clients were particularly affected by sexual trauma and that there was a need for more attention, research, and services for justice-involved women.

How do you define yourself as a scholar/activist/educator?

I would like to dedicate my career to engaging in research and practice that encourages data-driven reform in the justice system.

What are your current projects or interests?

With the support of the DWC and the Larry J. Siegel Graduate Fellowship, I am currently adapting a curriculum to reduce disproportionate arrests of minority youth to be gender-responsive for girls. My current research focuses on the evaluation of juvenile diversion and probation initiatives in Philadelphia, and my research interests include juvenile sentencing of crossover youth and the impact of gender and sexuality on people's interactions with the justice system

In my clinical work, I provide therapy for people reentering the community after incarceration in federal prison and for individuals who were exonerated after wrongful incarceration. I am also a mitigation specialist with the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project, and Philadelphia-based legal advocacy organization, for clients who were sentenced to mandatory life without parole as youth.

How do you wind down after a stressful day?

I wind down by playing the piano, calling family and friends, or exploring any of the free live music venues and events in Philadelphia.

What obstacles do you feel you have overcome to be where you are today?

In switching from a full-time social worker and advocate to a Ph.D. candidate in psychology, I had to examine my professional and personal values, my identity as an advocate, and the importance of objective research to inform policy.

What would you like to be remembered for?

I would like to be remembered for being able to connect with people from all walks of life, including those who have perspectives that differ from my own.

What is one of your lifelong goals?

One of my lifelong goals is to be an educator for practitioners in the field to expand the provision of culturally-sensitive sexuality and criminal justice services for diverse populations.

Is there a website where we can send people for more information about you?

I am a member of the Juvenile Justice Research and Reform Lab at Drexel University. More information is available here: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~neg23/personnel.html