Dr. Sheryl Van Horne, Assistant Professor and Director of Criminal Justice, attended the European Society for Criminology Conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, from Sept. 21 to 24. She moderated two panel sessions and presented two papers. The annual conference presents an overview of the latest theoretical and applied developments in criminology, through keynote speeches by scholars and parallel sessions.
Van Horne’s first paper, “A Home Confinement Exercise: Reducing Authoritarianism and Enhancing Empathy among College Students,” focuses on ways for faculty members to incorporate a house arrest assignment into their classrooms and the benefits and issues associated with the assignment.
“Home confinement is an alternative form of incarceration available in many jurisdictions that allows serious felons to remain in the community, yet most students view this sanction as non-punishment,” says Van Horne. “This paper discusses an activity designed to help students realize that house arrest is a form of punishment and that it can be an appropriate intermediate sanction.”
Students are asked to journal, making entries every four hours they are awake that detail how they feel and what they’ve done while serving their time. After a specified time period, they are released from house arrest and have an experience they will never forget. In the end, most students develop a more sympathetic stance toward individuals undergoing house arrest.
The second paper Van Horne presented, "Rethinking U.S. Mass Incarceration: 21st Century Challenges and Implications for Europe and Beyond,” examines mass incarceration as an emerging social problem, from both an economic and a moral perspective.
“Since the recent economic crisis, the formerly seemingly limitless bounty of funds funneled into prisons can no longer continue in many states and the correctional systems now must choose which programs to keep and which to cut back on,” she says. “Within this economic climate discussions begin to emerge regarding punishment, and policy has begun to change. Since a number of countries have either adopted or are moving toward the ‘get tough’ attitude towards crime that began in the 80s in the United States, this paper has significant policy implications for other countries.”