By Joel Hall
Next week, 15 Clayton State University criminal justice students will leave for Pretoria, South Africa to get a look at a legal system that has incorporated practices used throughout the world.
The students will participate in internships with the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority of South Africa, the Republic of South Africa Department of Correctional Services, and the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.
The South African program is the first time Clayton State has geared a study abroad program specifically to criminal justice majors, as well as the first time the various South African agencies have accepted interns, inside or outside of South Africa, according to Dr. Hamin Shabazz, a Clayton State criminal justice professor and coordinator of the program.
"It's bringing the textbook to life," said Shabazz. Last year, Clayton State organized its first study abroad program in South Africa, and this year will be the first that internships are afforded to students.
"It's one thing to read about other cultures in a textbook, but it's another thing to interact with them personally," said Shabazz. "Not only will they be able to experience another criminal justice system, but they will also get the experience to work, which will enhance their resume."
The program participants will leave Atlanta on July 7, and stay in Pretoria until July 27. From there, the students will fly to Cape Town to study the South African parliament until Aug. 4.
The students participating in this year's program are: Precious Gaines, Britney Charlton, Faniah Nabors, and Tashona Knowles, of Morrow; Kimberly Ford Bailey and Tamika Wooley, of Ellenwood; Tiffiny Donely, of Stone Mountain; Owheruobor Kagho, of Riverdale; Oluwatimilehin Adepoju and Angela Knight, of Stockbridge; Sandra Pedro, of Jonesboro; Altrena Nixon, of McDonough; Roodgine Rosemberg, of Loganville; Patrick Cofer, of Atlanta; and David Paulson, of Concord.
Shabazz described South Africa's system of governing as "a hybrid system," which borrows protocol from many different countries. He said that Clayton State students can learn much about the governments of the world just from studying the systems of South Africa.
"When you look at their strategic documents, their mission statements, their constitution ... you can find a little of China, you can find a little bit of America," said Shabazz. "They borrowed from everybody to make something that works for them, and it's new," he said, noting that South Africa's freedom from Apartheid occurred in 1994.
"Their correctional system may be a little bit more advanced than ours," Shabazz continued. He said in the American penal system, the focus is on punishment, whereas in South Africa, the focus is on rehabilitation.
Students will rotate within various departments during their internships and will have the opportunity to conduct police surveys in the Soweto Township, speak with officials who sat on South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission following apartheid, and meet members of parliament, among other activities.
Rosemberg, a recent graduate of the criminal justice program, who will be attending Cooley Law School in Lansing, Mich., in the fall, said the experience would be her first time studying abroad. She said the program will give students a chance to compare how South Africans "deal with their system and the way we deal with ours.
"It's one thing studying about the systems of different countries, but it's another being able to experience the system yourself," she said. She believes the trip will allow her to determine a career path in either international or criminal law.
"We hope that they get an overall, well-rounded experience, that they will come back new people, and that they will value their country even more," said Shabazz.