Blog and opinion
12 December 2017 • Denise Mowder
Crime and punishment
The differences in academic schedules allowed me to travel for the first few weeks in The Netherlands. I was also able to attend a Cyber Crime conference in Trier Germany while spending many hours on trains headed for Belgium, Paris, and the Rhine River in Germany. My first thought was of how organized the train system is and how safe I felt travelling. Being a former prosecutor, I have a tendency to be constantly vigil about my surroundings. Property crime runs rampant in the US and my husband and I surround ourselves with numerous security devices for our cars and house. However, I didn’t feel I needed to worry on our travels. Also, walking in the evenings is new for us and something we would never do back home. However, in Den Haag, my husband and I find ourselves walking constantly in the night time without any concern.
I’ve finished my 3rd week of teaching. I find both the US and Dutch students basically the same when it comes to their future. They either have no idea of what they want to do with their degree or they have their futures all planned out. I find about 10-20% want to go on for Master degrees and the rest just want to be finished!
However, I did find a huge difference in their perspectives toward punishment. When the US students first enter our University the majority mirror the pro-punishment perspective of our society. We work hard in their four years to educate them to other possibilities, but not always successful. I spent the last few days lecturing on Victimology in my Haagse Hogeschool criminology class. I wanted the students to get a feel of how the criminal justice system re-victimizes the victim especially during a trial. I played a movie of a rape trial in San Diego which wasn’t re-enacted but occurred in real time. The defendant was found guilty and the judge sentenced him to 50 years in prison. My intent was for the students to get a feel of what this victim went through before, during and after the trial. However, The Haag students were in shock over the length of the sentence. (We had a hard time getting beyond that) The American students wouldn’t have blinked twice and thought it was just.
On a personal level, the biggest difference in living in The Hague is the cold, transportation and TV. It’s perhaps the wind or the humidity, but 50 degrees Fahrenheit in The Hague is much colder to that same 50 degrees in dry Colorado. The other attitude adjustment is the inability to just walk out the door and jump into the car and go anywhere. We suddenly are thinking about tram, bus, and train schedules. Life in The Hague is “quieter” without the TV on in the background. Sadly, we’ve missed our favorite shows and our Mexican soccer team’s playoffs. We however, enjoy not hearing about the newest dramas in Washington DC and how bad the Denver Bronco football team is playing!
Earlier Juul Gooren wrote a blog about murder and marihuana.
Denise Mowder worked 12 years as a prosecutor. Nowadays she is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at the Metropolitan State University of Denver. In December and January she is teaching at THUAS. She writes this blog to THUAS lecturer Juul Gooren who currently works in Denver.