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Bangladesh Criminologist to Serve as UNH’s First Fulbright Scholar

Release Date:
10/3/2011 12:00 AM

University of New Haven: Mohammed bin Kashem, features Mohammed bin Kashem

Oct. 3, 2011

With more 130,000 crimes and 300 to 400 shootings a year, the national police force in Bangladesh, a country a little larger than the State of New York, has its work cut out for it.

Yet studying policing and criminal justice there is a fairly new concept.  That is something Mohammed bin Kashem, former dean of the curriculum development and evaluation center and an associate  professor of  sociology  at the National University and an adjunct faculty of the master’s program in criminology and criminal justice at the University of Dhaka, Bangladesh, hopes to change.

That is why Kashem is a Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence studying at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven this year.

Kashem has much to offer the University as well, says Mario T.  Gaboury, acting dean. “Having a Fulbright is an honor.  We expect to learn a lot from Mohammed especially about how police function in another area of the world.” 

Kashem says he hope to use what he learns at UNH to help improve the criminal justice system back home.

“The U.S. system of criminal justice is very well developed and efficient,” he says.  “Partly, that’s because the United States invests more in criminal justice research.  In Bangladesh, there is no money for research and many people do not yet perceive that there is a need for it.”

Kashem, who holds two master’s degrees, one from the University of Baltimore in criminal justice and the other from the University of Chittagong, Bangladesh, in sociology, also has completed two years of work on a Ph.D. in criminology and criminal justice at the University of Maryland.

While at UNH, he hopes to learn more about community policing and how it can help prevent crime. And he hopes to set up a permanent connection for the exchange of information between scholars at the National University and UNH.

“I’d also like to see us develop a police reform program and develop the ability to train some of our police officers in the United States,” he says. 

The criminal justice system in Bangladesh functions differently from the U.S. system he says. For one thing, it follows the British legal system. 

DNA evidence and national crime information is just starting to be used and the country does not have either a parole system or the ability to put offenders on probation. The national system of identity is only  five years old so many people have more than one passport and more than one identity and police have no way of checking who they really are.  Criminals can move easily around the country. Police need improved investigative capabilities, Kashem says.

People who are guilty of a crime are sent to jail quickly. Consequently, there are nearly 90,000 inmates in 67 jails in buildings with a rated capacity of less than 30,000, he says.

“The living conditions in our jails are not good.  The cost of incarceration is lower than it is the United States in part because the buildings are heavily overcrowded,” he says.  “The philosophy of punishment is quite different.

“Offenders in the U.S. have more rights than offenders in Bangladesh,” he says. “Jail officers there have a lot more power. So, because of corruption, some prisoners are given a better location in the prison and more food, for instance,” he says.

Kashem notes in the past there were no freedom of information laws in Bangladesh, so obtaining statistics and information for his research were very difficult. About two years ago,  Bangladesh enacted a “Right TO Information” law but the situation has largely remained unchanged.  Much of the information he is given is provided only because of his reputation and relationships he has with the senior level police officers as an academic and police researcher.  

“There is not a lot of respect for the police in Bangladesh,” he says. “I would like to improve that by improving police professionalism through education.”

But while the criminal justice system in Bangladesh may need improvement, Kashem notes that there are some things that make life much easier there.

At home, he has a car and driver. Here, he commutes from New Haven to UNH by bus, and he and his wife and two children have to do the cooking, cleaning and other tasks that servants at home perform.

“In America, the people do everything they need done.  In Bangladesh, we rely on domestic aides.  The systems – like the criminal justice systems – are different.”

A leader in experiential education, the University of New Haven provides its students with a valuable combination of solid liberal arts and real-world, hands-on professional training. Founded in 1920, UNH is a private, top-tier comprehensive university with an 82-acre main campus. The university has an enrollment of more than 5,900: approximately 1,700 graduate students and more than 4,200 undergraduates, 70 percent of whom reside in university housing. The university offers 75 undergraduate and graduate degrees through the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences, the Tagliatela College of Engineering and University College. University of New Haven students study abroad through a variety of distinctive programs.