Campus Life

Criminal justice students visit Scotland

By Lauren Haggett, University Communications

Nine UWF criminal justice students recently visited Scotland, where they spent two weeks learning about the Scottish judicial system first-hand. John Smykla, Ph.D., a professor in the Department of Justice Studies at UWF, planned the trip for his students to provide them a once-in-a-lifetime learning experience as part of his Comparative Criminal Justice summer classes.

“I wanted my students to know that we live in a global community and that makes it not only possible, but necessary for us to learn from both the successes and mistakes of other countries around the world,” said Smykla.

The University of the West of Scotland (UWS), in Hamilton, Scotland, generously opened their doors to the UWF group during their stay. They provided discounted housing and meals at UWS, as well as free transportation every afternoon that carried the students and Smykla to tours at various criminal justice agencies and social events in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Sterling, Scotland.

“We toured Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow (Scotland’s largest prison), and we sat in on cases at High Court and Scottish Parliament,” said Michael Riviezzo, a senior studying criminal justice at UWF.

During their stay, Geraldine O’Donnell, professor and criminal justice program leader for UWS, and her faculty, lectured on topics such as Scottish criminal justice, politics, prison system, youth justice and police. O’Donnell also arranged all of the tours for the group which made for a memorable experience.

“The professors gave us a very good understanding of the Scottish criminal justice system,” said Paula Lannes, a recent UWF graduate now pursuing her master’s in criminal justice at UWF. “My favorite part about the trip was the opportunity to watch a Scottish criminal trial. I watched a robbery case, and I found it very interesting to see that the judges and lawyers still wear wigs.”

“I enjoyed seeing my students act as ambassadors for UWF, Pensacola and the U.S.,” said Smykla. “I beamed at the students’ positive responses to questions and smiles they brought to the Scots’ faces. I could not have asked for more.”

Smykla has plans to return the favor to UWS for all of the graciousness he and his students received while in Scotland.

“Students from UWS are coming to UWF June 2012 to spend two weeks on our campus learning about U.S. criminal justice policy,” said Smykla. “I am excited about their visit, and I have already drafted a schedule that will introduce them to U.S. policing, courts, corrections, restorative justice, domestic violence, federal re-entry, juvenile court, sailing, the beach and possibly even New Orleans.”

For more information, contact the College of Professional Studies at 474-2769.