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Partnership links ASU, CUNY criminal justice programs


June 27, 2008

It began two years ago as a handshake idea connecting a pair of criminal justice schools some 2,500 miles apart. Today it links students, faculty, and research centers in a partnership designed to develop cross-country criminology programs, enhance research efforts, and strengthen ties between academia and practitioners.

The partnership program between Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the City University of New York’s (CUNY) John Jay College of Criminal Justice will foster the sharing of best practices in a wide range of areas between the two schools, including areas of similarity, as well as those unique to each.

“This creates a bi-coastal effort to inform such criminal justice issues as immigration and border security, street gangs and violence, and offender re-entry programs,” says John Hepburn, dean of ASU’s College of Human Services where the School of Criminology and Criminal resides. “John Jay is among the best in the country at educating, training and working with criminal justice professionals, and this partnership offers us the opportunity to merge our areas of expertise to service a larger and more complex community.”

“Both ASU and John Jay have dynamic, rapidly expanding faculties and large, diverse student bodies,” says John Jay College Dean of Research James Levine. “As a result, this partnership has endless possibilities for our students, faculty and research centers.”

The cross-country link between the two criminology schools brings together a wealth of resources. ASU’s criminology school boasts an interdisciplinary approach to understanding issues related to policing, corrections, juvenile justice, terrorism, drug use, and other issues in criminal justice. John Jay College has earned a global reputation in the fields of applied criminal justice and international criminal justice. The two campus communities share commonalities and differences, which brings greater significance to the cooperative program, according to Karen Terry, an associate professor in the Department of Law, Police Science and Criminal Justice Administration at John Jay.

“Faculty have similar goals and research interests, and this can lead to collaboration on serious research projects between the universities,” says Terry, who also is the executive officer of the doctoral program in criminal justice of The Graduate Center, CUNY at John Jay. “Both faculty and students are grappling with the same issues, but from a different perspective. So, students at both universities will study police leadership, and to fully understand this issue, it would be important to study the benefits and challenges to both centralized and decentralized police forces.

Scott Decker, director of ASU’s nationally ranked criminology school and a recent appointee to Governor Janet Napolitano’s Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training board of directors, says the differences will create opportunities for faculty and students.

“Our international experiences are different from each other, there are differences in the border issues we deal with, and there different kinds of diversity,” he says. “Each of these areas brings with it challenges and prospects for learning. The information exchange and the communication necessary for success is a critical component in the more spread out, diffused Phoenix metro area as well as in the dense, highly concentrated area of New York City.”

In addition to student and faculty exchanges between the two schools, the partnership calls for the beginning of a public safety leadership training program directed by John Jay faculty for the benefit of top law enforcement personnel locally and across the state. The first such seminar is an upcoming three-day academy to be held at the West campus this month under the direction of Ellen Scrivner, director of the John Jay Leadership Academy. The reality-based learning experience will serve as a template for future seminars conducted by a proposed Institute for Policy Leadership and Training in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

“We hope to develop more of these innovative partnerships, not only in the United States, but internationally as well,” says Decker, who will travel to the Netherlands this summer to explore the possibility of establishing a similar faculty-student exchange program with VU University of Amsterdam. “There are lots of areas in which we can work together and learn from each other. The Dutch model of international and comparative criminal justice is one that holds a great deal of interest.”

Exchange programs involving students also are already under way. In April, 10 master’s students and one undergraduate traveled from Phoenix to spend a week at John Jay, visiting a local jail and a diversion court, and attending seminars and classes. One month later, 10 students from John Jay came to town and made trips to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility in Douglas, a medium-security prison facility in the central part of the state, the Tents Jail (known locally as “Tent City”) adjacent to the Maricopa County Jail in Phoenix, and attended a “Violence in America” seminar hosted by the school.

“ASU has a very impressive faculty and a model criminal justice department, and it provides a good model for our students to follow,” says Terry. “The promising aspect of the partnership is the possibility of developing further collaborations with research, professional development seminars and workshops, and continuing the exchange programs for students and faculty. Both institutions are set to gain a wealth of knowledge from the other, as our strengths complement each other.”