Criminology USA trip 2016: San Fransisco

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, America, Criminology, Derby Uni, Derby University, LHSS, Public Defenders Office, USA

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!

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Public Defenders Office, LA.

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, America, Criminology, Derby Uni, Derby University, Public Defenders Office, USA

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

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, America, Criminology, Derby Uni, Derby University

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.

Global Development International Relations – Tanzania.

#chooseDerby, #DerbyStudent, Derby University, international relations

A group of 24 students from the University of Derby, studying Joint Honours Development Studies and International Relations have successfully undergone a 2 week intensive course as part of their undergraduate degree programme. The course, led by Dr Francis Jegede, involved educational trips to a number of international Non-Governmental Organisations including the World Vision and other agencies involved in development projects in Africa and Asia.

During the trip, students visited schools, hospitals, nature reserves and conservation projects, co-operative and women’s projects, health care programmes, cultural centres etc.,  in urban and rural areas of Arusah and Moshi in, northern Tanzania.

The tour enabled students to meet government officials, development NGOs’  workers and other local people involved in community projects and programmes aimed at improving living condition for people in Northern Tanzania. Amongst the themes explored by students on this trip are – agriculture, land use and conservation, health and healthcare projects, gender and development, tourism, access to credit and rural cooperative schemes.

The practical knowledge gained by students through this field course links well with development and international relations theories they’ve learnt in lectures. This linkage between theory and practice and the global reach of International Relations and Global Development course at Derby, makes Derby University a unique provider of development education.

The students came away with great satisfaction and appreciation of the challenges facing people living in low income countries. Students’ feedback on the trip has been overwhelmingly positive. They all indicated in their feedback that  the Tanzania trip has been a life changing experience for them and has prepared them immensely for the world of work in the field of international relations and development.

-Franc Jegede

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