Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf Conducts Research in Finland
In May, Dr. Abdul-Ra’uf, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, spent three weeks working on a grant with Dr.Johanna Lasonen of the Educational Research Institute at the University of Jyvaskyla, in Jyvaskyla, Finland. The focus of the grant is on Prison Education. Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf is a socio-cultural and applied anthropologist whose external area of expertise is race, ethnicity, and class. Her primary research deals with the occupational subculture of the police, and police education. Dr. Abdul-Ra’uf assisted in the collection of data that focuses on the education of Somali and Romanian immigrants who are incarcerated in Finnish Prisons.
Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf's current research includes an ethnographic study of the Blacksburg Police Department. Her past ethnographic study of a police department found that social injustice is indeed a reality for many people in the U.S. and many different groups are affected by the injustices. She also believes that in many large cities in the U.S. the police play a huge role in discriminating against people that they are charged with serving and protecting. For this reason, she has been dedicated to addressing those issues through her university classroom instruction, as well as conducting studies among police departments. Her goal is to provide information to those whose myopic perspective is based on past notions of cultural imperialism.
Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf's visit to Finland was multipurpose, to collect data on the prison education grant, to examine police education, and to coordinate a study abroad program that would allow her students to visit and observe the police both in a police educational setting and in a police workplace setting. During her visit she learned and was very impressed with the role of the police in Finland. She was most impressed with the statement that she heard from two locations, the Police College of Finland (where she presented her past and present research), and the Police Department in Jyvaskyla. From both the police college and the police department, she was told that the citizens of Finland had more trust in the police than they had in their clergy. For Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf, that statement was a complete shock. She maintains that she has never heard such a statement about U.S. police.
Observing the increase in immigration in Finland, and learning of the disproportionate number of non-Fins in prison, she ask the question,” Will Finnish police be eventually faced with similar problems as are found in the big cities of the U.S?” As Fins are confronted more and more with issues of diversity, are they headed towards a more increasingly disproportionate prison population? Dr. Lasonen and Dr. Abdul-Ra'uf plan to submit an article for publication on some of these issues. They both feel that these issues are important to our changing society.