Criminology USA trip 2016: San Fransisco

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Today we all visited the Public Defenders Office in San Francisco. We were shown around the office building by one of the attorneys who worked there. We went into one the office rooms where we were shown a PowerPoint presentation which consisted of information about the American criminal justice system, e.g. the jury selection process and the different amendments. We were told how San Francisco are different to some other states in America because they have an office building specifically for Public Defenders and Paralegals, whereas in some other states they are employed independently.

In the afternoon we then went over to the Hall of Justice which is a courthouse. We first sat in a preliminary hearing where we saw a defendant plead guilty to 2nd degree burglary. We then went into another court room where we saw a defence attorney cross-examining her client, and this case had a 12 people jury present. After lunch we had the opportunity to speak with a judge from the Hall of Justice, he spoke to us about some of the work he had done and a new programme that they are starting which involves young adults (18-25 years old).

After each activity we had the chance to ask questions whilst making comparisons to the American and UK criminal justice system.

Overall, the whole day was very enjoyable and a great experience to be apart of. I would recommend this trip to any future students who are offered the opportunity!



Public Defenders Office, LA.

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The group met with Mark Jacobs who is a Public Attorney and defends those who have been accused of committing a crime, he strives to give those who cannot afford their own attorney the same quality and professionalism as though he was a private attorney.

We discussed the differences between the court systems, including jury selection and how if members of the jury showed signs of unconscious bias then they were dismissed. Mark Jacobs also talked about referral documents to the courts, i.e. an Information or Complaint.

Subpoenas were also mentioned and are when someone is summoned to court to testify or give evidence in a case; the person to testify must appear in court or they will face punishment themselves.

Overall he gave a very interesting and detailed overview of the U.S. criminal justice system in general but particularly of the selection process for jury panels to eliminate any possible prejudice that will affect their judgement of the case.

 Sent by Beth Adams.

San Quentin Prison

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photo 2San Quentin State Prison is the oldest correctional facility in California, currently housing around 3,800 inmates. This is the only prison housing death row inmates in the state, though the last execution by lethal injection took place around 2005. The group met with Lieutenant Sam Robinson, whom with many years of experience including 10 years working on death row had extensive knowledge of the prison and its history.

He was extremely open regarding his experiences of the prison and the inmates; this was particularly helpful when asking the several questions the group had about a range of topics. Once cleared by security, we entered into a large open space surrounded by several buildings, to the left was the unit housing the most dangerous of offenders, the death row inmates, Lt. Robinson named just a few well-known death row inmates at the facility. To the right was the church opening its doors to all religions from Rastafarian to Catholic, as the only religious building in the prison, it was described as a place everyone could come together.

Lt. Robinson then introduced the group to six current inmates of the prison varying in age and background, these particular inmates were all serving life sentences for varying crimes. They were also very open and honest when sharing with us their varying experiences not only of San Quentin itself, but also of the American Criminal Justice System throughout their lives; from as early as juvenile court and juvenile correctional facilities.

The inmates praised the work being implemented at San Quentin, particularly the programmes provided in order for prisoners to better themselves whilst serving their sentences, the programmes within the prison range from parenting classes to lessons in reading and writing with the aim to aid inmates when released back into the community, with the hope of reducing the chance of recidivism. Hearing of the varying experiences and thoughts of the six life prisoners at San Quentin provided each individual within the group with invaluable knowledge and certainly gave us a lot to think about regarding the criminal justice system in America.

Continuing on our tour of the facility, we saw first hand the hospital on site providing a range of services to prisoners from x-ray to mental health services, throughout which it was clear to see the strong relationship between staff and inmates. Lt. Robinson then took us through the facilities in which inmates are employed to manufacture furniture and mattresses; the working environment felt like any other and prisoners were clearly enjoying their work.

The group then took a short walk to the San Quentin News office; the newspaper employs around 12 members of staff and is a way to keep all inmates informed of the goings on within the prison.

The tour continued with a first-hand experience of life living in a prison cell, the group were shown a cell block housing hundreds of inmates and were allowed the opportunity to enter a cell comprising of a bunk bed for two inmates and very little space to move around. After experiencing the prison dining halls and the impressive art of a previous inmate covering the walls, we had reached the end of the tour.

Overall, the experience of San Quentin was indescribable. Seeing first hand the workings of the prison, the programmes available for prisoners and the relationship between staff and prisoners was particularly intriguing. Hearing of the experiences of the six inmates serving life within the prison will be something that will stay with us in years to come, an experience we will certainly take with us throughout our lives.

Sent by Alisha Starmer.

Criminology trip, Day 2: Homeboy Industries, Twin Towers Correctional Facility and City Hall, LA.

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On the morning of May 18th, we spent several hours with service users and providers at Homeboy Industry.

Homeboy Industry provides an 18 month reintegration program that consists of educating and employment services, legal services and free tattoo removal for those previously incarcerated,  involved in gangs or in need of assistance.

During our time at Homeboy Industry we heard the testimony of two employees regarding their work and their previous history of gang involvement. We also heard how Homeboy Industry had helped them become valuable members of society and of their family units.

Homeboy Industry is also focused on providing assistance to the wider community through a number of services at aim to empower and enrich both the individual and the community whilst also upholding the belief that “Whatever you have done does not define who you are.”

city hall laWe then went on to visit Los Angeles City Hall where we met with a range of staff the from Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development, to learn more about gang prevention and intervention services. GRYD was established in 2007 as part of a pioneering effort to reduce the influence of gangs in the lives of young people in LA. We learned about the neighbourhood-based approach that focuses on high-gang-crime areas and the programmes that help young people at risk.

Finally, we all went on to visit the Twin Towers correctional facility, which Twin towersis part of LA county jail. The Twin Towers houses 1,400 mentally ill patients in downtown Los Angeles. This offered a sense of the pressure facing the US prison system as it attempts to cope with the manifold difficulties of working with people with mental health issues who come into contact with the justice system. We gained real insight into the complexities that emerge from creating a mental hospital inside a jail, and were able to ask prison staff a range of searching questions about the realities of life behind bars in the USA

Dale – Fun history stuff

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It suddenly dawned on me today that I haven’t actually told you about the real stuff we learn about in History. Seeing as this is basically my job, let me introduce you to the course!

You start in first year (naturally), with a few induction days. These get you introduced to the history course, and the rest of your course mates and lecturers. You will most likely go to Kedleston Hall (a VERY nice country house located near the city) for the day where you’ll look around and generally mingle with all these new people. You’ll also go on tours around the city, and maybe even stop in at a few pubs along the way…

Throughout the year the courses you’ll do cover British history from the mid-1400s to mid-1900s (across two separate modules), and the same again but in wider Europe. You also look at Russia mid-1800s to early 1900s, and finally a more general history skills module. In addition to this there is always the chance to go on trips to places like London and the nearby Peak District, just to further your experience with history at Derby.

Second and third years are much of the same, but obviously with different modules and available activities. Modules in second year include a look at the First World War, Ethnic and Cultural Minorities in Europe, Gender roles through the ages, Europe between wars, and how medicine has changed in the past 500 years. The Public History module is about delivering your very own history conference (more information on that soon!), and of course the research project is a smaller version of the third year dissertation.

Speaking of which, the so-called monster that is the dissertation comes in the final year. The straight up 10,000 word project is surrounded with more modules ranging from looking at country houses, the rise and fall of Yugoslavia, China through the ages, and a look at diplomacy and international relations around the world.

As you can see the History course in general offers so much variety that it’s difficult to find something you won’t enjoy whilst you’re here. There’s a lot to do, but I promise you’ll enjoy it.

Nifemi talks about… the University of Derby Gospel society

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‘If music be the food of love, play on’ – William Shakespeare

The University of Derby Gospel society (DUGC) is a new society put together by the current second year students at derby university.  It a growing society which has just hit its 20 person margined. Through it is a new society it is has started to get in contact with other university in the area and was invited for the Leicester challenge. No auditions are required which means everyone is welcome, from professional singers, to those who just love to sing gospel society are welcoming of any race,  religion, gender and vocal ability’s.

I am the social secretary for gospel society. My roles are to recorded events that the gospel society have or take part in, this includes rehearsals. I have also been charged with the over Making a logo for the society that best represent us as a group. I have also taking it upon myself to try and fine event so we can showcase the best University of Derby has to offer.   I am also in charge of the Facebook page which we post songs, picture, videos and important information not just about DUGU but also about University of Derby in general.  We are a part of the student union and are giving a great amount of support from them.

Nifemi Signature

Dale – The ‘slog’

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One thing I’ve come to realise quite recently is how things work here. And that it’s quite the opposite from how I first saw things. In my first few weeks at uni I was constantly being bombarded (in a good way) by new things to do, see, and experience. This gave me the impression that everything here was quick and changing all the time. My plans were being updated and altered almost every day, and it was so hard to keep track of things. In all honesty it was quite overwhelming.

But as time went on you get used to it. You start to know people’s timetables (including your own), and just generally how things work at university. Then you start to know it even better. Then it becomes boring.

Nearing the end of first year uni suddenly became intensely boring. My schedule was, week after week, something along the lines of: work, sleep, see friends, procrastinate, work, sleep… and so on. No-one knows why this happens to us, but it was certainly a generally accepted feeling amongst me and my friends. This is the ‘slog’ of uni. The ‘lure’ of doing new things every day had worn off, and people settle down into normal routines, all the while building up deadlines.

Then suddenly it all went! I felt like I picked myself up, dusted off and just started doing things again. I was enjoying everything I did again as part of my uni life (which as you can see,, is very busy), and I wasn’t bored again!

The whole experience was very weird… After coming here with the expectation of every day to be full on and challenging in some way, it was weird to be feeling bored quite a lot. If this happens to you, there are a couple of things you need to remember:

  1. Stay active. Some days you might feel like just staying in and relaxing, and that’s fine. But too many of these days are dangerous. Not only do you become less productive when you do start working, but you miss out on a huge range of things going on in uni!
  2. Be excited about the things you do. If you go into something with the mind-set that you are going to put into it everything you can, and get out of it just as much, then you will definitely be making the most out of it all!
  3. Be enduring. This is starting to sound like some weird motivational poster so this will be the last point, but you’ve got to remember that everything you do here is changing you in some way. Some things will affect you for the better, and some things will do the opposite. It’s up to you to find these good impacts and stick with them for as long as you can.

I realise this is not the happiest of posts, about how wonderful uni life is, but it is the truth; some days you will question why you came here in the first place. But like I said above, it’s all for the better, so get out there and be active!


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Postgraduate students studying Transnational Criminal Law and Human Rights Violations, together with their Programme Leader Karen Clubb, recently attended a national student conference on Migration and Human Rights. This is one of a number of valuable student learning opportunities  the University has funded as part of the Postgraduate law provision.

The conference focussed on the current legal protection to counter the vulnerability of migrants in being subject to modern slavery and forced labour as forms of human trafficking. The event provided students with an opportunity to listen the views of high level policy makers including Ms Maria Grazia Giammarinaro, Special Rapporteur on the trafficking of persons Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Students also had the opportunity to talk with and ask questions of respected experts in this field, including Professor Piotrowicz, Professor of Law and UK Expert member of the  Council of Europe GRETA group of experts, as well as engage with current research by Doctoral students in this area.

The event was also attended by NGOs, whom student Esther Macheteh contacted, leading to her being accepted to work as a Volunteer refugee support worker for the Red Cross.

Scott – Some of my most memorable uni moments

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When you come to university, it goes without saying that you make a lot of memories along the way.

You’ll find yourself at the centre of stories you’ll remember for the rest of your life, and hear tales from around your campus and beyond of some of the craziest things that you could imagine.

Because uni brings together so many different people from all over the place, there’s no end of things that can and, inevitably, will happen.

As I draw nearer and nearer to the end of my time as a student, I’ve found myself frequently reminiscing on some of the things that have happened during my time in Derby.

So I thought I’d share them here for the amusement of you guys.


1. Coming home to find my flat mate ‘locked out’ of his room, sleeping on the floor

Being a student in his third year at uni, there was obviously going to be the odd drunken tale appearing in this list! This one just happens to crack me up every time I think back to it.

Me and my flat mate were on a night out in Derby in our first year and it was getting on into the early hours of the morning. After not seeing him for a while, I realised that I’d lost him. I couldn’t find him anywhere at all so decided to check my phone. To my surprise, I had a few missed calls and texts from him. I read the texts and they informed me that he’d gone home about half an hour ago but was somehow locked out of his room at Princess Alice Court. Luckily for him, I was just about to head home via a pizza place anyway so I told him not to worry.

untitledI got back into the flat and when the lights came on, I burst out laughing. There, on the floor, curled up in a ball using the oven gloves as a pillow, was my flat mate. Through fits of laughter, I woke him up and asked for his key so I could try his door. I’d just about managed to pull myself together as I tried his door. It was already unlocked, he just couldn’t fathom how to open his door. Upon realising this, he walked into the shower room for some reason. He’d first tried to sleep in there, making a little nest out of his jacket and tshirt and, as he informed me, the oven gloves. I laughed so hard it hurt and I’ve never let him live it down!

2. Meeting my girlfriend

It’s a bit soppy, I know, but this has to the best thing to come out of uni. I have been fortunate enough to meet my wonderful girlfriend here in Derby, and I would never have even knew who she was if I hadn’t decided to come here.

I’m from Leicester and she’s from Gloucester, so we’re from two completely different parts of the country. It’s crazy to think that we would never have met if we both decided to go to different universities, so you can understand why I’m very glad that we both chose to come here!

Being at uni together has allowed us to share all of our experiences and grow up together. Now we’re ready to get our own place, jobs and grow up. I’m getting old!

3. Our TV news days in 2014

As part of my Journalism course, we have to do TV news days. These are where we spend the day putting together a news bulletin as if it was going out on air. So we all have stories that we’ve filmed or partly filmed in preparation for it, and we did some stories on the day as well. They ran for two consecutive days in April after teaching had finished, which could have been seen as a negative, but I enjoyed the days so much that I really didn’t care.

I was the producer on one day and a new reader on the other, and I enjoyed both roles immensely. It was just great to work with all of my class mates on something that really did look very professional and that I’m very proud of to this day. It was really stressful though, that’s the only down side to the whole experience.
4. The first night of freshers

For me, this is one of the best, craziest, strangest nights of my life. After going through the stress of moving my whole life into my room at Princess Alice and slowly getting it the way I wanted it, then saying emotional goodbyes to my parents, I was left alone. I met my flat mates and a few people I’d met on Facebook before I arrived to have a few drinks before we all went into the courtyard to be escorted to the Student Union bar by Residential Assistant (a student who lives in halls who is there to help you out with anything you may need). On the walk to the SU, I met a lot of people and made some new friends, but it was just so bizarre. Everything was new, I had no idea where I was going or what I was doing, I was just aiming to stay in one piece! The SU was extremely busy and packed with fellow first years. I’d never been to a city on a night out before this, so I was a bit blown away!

After a while, me and a lad I’d become friends with got a taxi into town with some people we just happened to bump into and went to a few bars. I imagesXQHNNPWLsaw a friend from home who was a second year at the time and remember saying to her: “This is mad!” It was. I saw people doing some very random things that night and just remember thinking to myself that coming to uni was a great decision. It was a really great night and one I’ll never forget.

5. The accent debate

There’s one conversation that I don’t think anyone hasn’t had at uni: the one about how your accent is different or ‘weird’ to anyone who isn’t from where you are.

Me and my flat mate were once sat in the kitchen having a very long, in depth chat about how different our accents are. We were both naming things to say and see how differently we pronounced them.

He seemed to draw the conclusion that because he’s from Cambridge, his accent is posh and mine was common, or ‘dirty’ as he liked to keep saying. It was a very fun

Dale – What actually goes on here?!

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Dale T, Derby Uni

I’ve talked a lot about what is on offer at the university in my old posts. I like doing this, it shows what you can actually do as a uni student, what makes it different from home basically. But I realised today that I haven’t talked about the general things that just make it our uni.

This week is a good example actually, there has been a surprising amount of events in the Atrium, the central hub in university everything that isn’t a lecture or a sport goes on. I can’t remember the exact days all this stuff was on, but here’s a general list:

Every Tuesday and Thursday different food stalls set up for the day. My personal (and I’m pretty sure every student’s favourite) is Cyril’s Cupcakes. They sell some of the best and most varied brownies, cakes, sweet loafs and buns around, for as little as £1! Next to them is the pastry stall, having an equally wide range of savoury foods to help you get through the day. Just across from him is the crepe guy, whose name unfortunately escapes me, but you can guess what he sells. Tasty tasty!

Earlier this week the Careers service hosted a volunteering fair. Perfect for anyone looking for something cheap and good willed to do over summer, a number of different charitable organisations set up stalls to offer anything from building playgrounds in Africa, to exploring Caribbean jungles, to campaigning for Human Rights in Central Asia. Something I found particularly helpful was the Careers service offering a quick CV check on the same day.

At the top of the Atrium near the library, a local bike repair shop came in for the day to offer free checks on your bike, and other cheap additions. You could simply wheel your bike in through the double doors, drop it off there whilst you go for a lecture and pick it up when you’re done! Cheap and easy, and just another benefit of the Atrium!

As I’m sure many of you have (hopefully) heard, May 7th is the national election. Therefore to promote our form of democracy, the Students Union have been running a campaign to get as many students to register for the vote. By the end of the week the SU hope to have signed up over 500 students! Tables set up around the atrium on various days have helped to spread this word, where you can fill in the brief online registration form,

A recent complaint from the Student Parents Officer was that it is hard for student parents to multitask having children and completing a university degree as there is nowhere for the student to leave their child during study. In response to this the SU organised a day event in the centre of the Atrium so that the students could leave their children. There were bouncy castles, soft play equipment and even performances from our very own Derby Ravens Cheerleading squad to keep the kids entertained.

Something you will often see posted around uni are flyers featuring information on student Psychology studies going on at the university. T Block is the official Psychology area, with various different experiment rooms for the students to complete their studies in. Their tests need students to take part, so what better way to convince them of this than to have rewards! Chances of winning gift vouchers for shops, a simple cash bonus or even a selection of sweets is always enough to entice a few students into taking part. You will see these flyers posted around the campuses.

Though not often as fun as the other activities, guest lecturers often visit the uni to give one time lectures and seminars on certain subjects. Most of them might not be of any interest to you, but a few of them will spark your interest, and they are always free to attend.

For me it is this kind of thing that really makes uni a different style of life to home, there really can be anything you can think of on offer here!