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Niagara University professor lectures in Slovenia on U.S. imprisonment policies

by jmaloni
Mon, May 21st 2012 04:00 pm

by Michael J. Freedman

Assistant Director of Public Relations

and Manager of Online Content

Dr. Paul Schupp, an associate professor of criminology at Niagara University, recently spent a week in Slovenia lecturing to college students on the international implications of American imprisonment policies. His visit, funded through a visiting scholars program at the University of Maribor in Ljubljana, Slovenia, also included a tour of Dob Prison, the country's largest maximum security prison for men.

"Everyone in Slovenia was incredibly welcoming and proud of their country, as well as very interested in American society," Schupp noted upon returning stateside. "It was an exciting opportunity to translate my knowledge of, and interest in, American imprisonment policy into an international context."

The opportunity to speak in Slovenia developed from a 2010 relationship that Schupp formed with a SUNY Albany professor while writing a series of articles that profiled crime and criminal justice in several nations. After the series was published, the distinguished professor, Dr. Graeme Newman, alerted Schupp to the visiting scholars program, which he was accepted for last fall.

During his time at the University of Maribor, Schupp delivered four lectures:

  • "An International Perspective on American Mass Incarceration"

  • "Prison as Crime Control: American Lessons"

  • "Improving Prisoner Rehabilitation and Reentry"

  • "Supermax Prisons: Managing Dangerous Prisoners"

Schupp also had an opportunity to talk informally with university students about crime and justice issues in Slovenia, and discussed America's current state of imprisonment and crime control with Dob Prison staff.

"Imprisonment policies are rather different between the U.S. and European Union countries such as Slovenia," Schupp explained. "Our prison systems incarcerate far more people for far longer, on average, than does Slovenia's system. Our prisons are also typically much larger, with some maximum security prisons housing thousands of people. By contrast, Slovenia's Dob Prison only houses a few hundred at any one time. Although crime itself does not explain a nation's imprisonment policies, the U.S. has noticeably higher levels of interpersonal violence than does Slovenia, which manages to maintain peace and safety with much less severe criminal punishments. Both nations have become increasingly concerned about prisoner rehabilitation and reducing imprisonment costs, particularly in the wake of the recent Great Recession."

While suggesting that scholars and practitioners in the U.S. and E.U. can learn a great deal from each other, Schupp noted that he was intrigued by how closely Europeans follow American events and policies.

"They have been very interested in - and shocked by - American criminal justice phenomena such as the execution of innocent defendants and violent shootings (e.g. the Trayvon Martin trial) as well as the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay and the Abu Ghraib scandal. These significantly hurt our national image abroad. It served as a poignant reminder of the unique role that U.S. has in the world, and how great our responsibility is to promote human rights and be a worthy moral exemplar," he stated.

Aside from criminal justice, Schupp also said that he was struck by the many similarities between Slovenian and Niagara University students.

"They (Slovenian students) too have a strong desire to successfully make a living while living meaningful lives. I was proud to represent Niagara University as a Vincentian institution animated by the goal of deploying scholarship to create a more just society."

Schupp earned his B.S. in biological sciences with a concentration in neurobiology and behavior from Cornell University. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. from SUNY Albany. At NU, he teaches undergraduate courses in principles of justice, imprisonment and corrections, as well as field experience in criminal justice. In the graduate program, he teaches the introductory course, system-wide issues in criminal justice, the seminar on criminal justice ethics, and the seminar on organizational and white collar crime. His research has been published in journals such as Critical Issues in Justice and Politics, Criminal Justice Policy Review and the Journal of Criminal Justice Research.

To learn more about Niagara University's criminology and criminal justice programs, call 716-286-8080 or visit http://www.niagara.edu/crj.

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