Shahidullah's textbook sheds new light on criminal justice systems
Kesha Williams November 30, 2012
In the last decade, Americans have heard and seen more news reports of crimes committed
by criminals outside their native country.
When the perpetrators target Americans, extensive searches are conducted to capture
the criminals. Yet, bringing the guilty to justice is a grueling process. The mere
definition of crime can vary from one society to another. Customs and norms vary significantly
among the world's populations, impeding the search and transfer of criminals. Drastic
differences exist between the operations manuals of the world's law enforcement agencies
and judicial systems. Sorting out the differences may require the work of several
different experts. Preparing those experts for their jobs is no small task for college
Dr. Shahid M. Shahidullah, a professor of criminal justice at Elizabeth City State
University and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice, Sociology and Social Work,
has published a new textbook that surely will make a difference. His book, "Comparative
Criminal Justice Systems, Global and Local Perspectives," shows the reader the many
factors that impede efforts to bring criminals to justice.
"Because there are few books that cover a wide range of criminal justice systems in
countries such as China, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, we knew this textbook would
change the criminal justice literature," Shahidullah said.
"The publisher asked me to pay particular emphasis on Shariah Law and its use in Islamic
countries. No book covers Shariah Law as it is used in different countries now," Shahidullah
said. "I have presented a number of articles at national conferences and can assure
you that a nation's use and interpretation of the law can impact who is determined
to be a criminal and who will likely be viewed as a victim."
Shahidullah, a native of Bangladesh, has been an instructor at ECSU since 2009. He
teaches mostly upper level criminal justice courses but also teaches freshmen level
courses as well. He tells his students that the growth of criminal justice as a major
for college students is a reflection of Americans preoccupation with security. Societies
are now complex, with new technology and information sources used to commit crimes.
As a result, investigators and emergency responders are forced to acquire an understanding
of the law and legal institutions. Professors are challenged to prepare students for
an ever-changing nature of crime and criminal justice systems.
"Criminal justice, the college major, is becoming science intensive, knowledge intensive,
quite different from what it was 30 or 40 years ago. That is why you have seen so
much expansion of majors now related to criminal justice," Shahidullah said.
"We also are seeing a larger number of police officers returning to universities to
earn bachelor's degrees for professional development and advancement. Some need more
information about the law because the police academies offer limited training on the
law," he said.
Televised criminal investigation shows also are fueling the interest of students who
choose criminal justice as their major. What that curriculum now may entail are courses
in computer science, chemistry, biology and forensic science.
"Today, many of the issues related to global terrorism and homeland security are at
the forefront of the news, which is luring more people into this college major," Shahidullah
said. "Use of GPS technology, crime mapping and DNA are tasks that police officers
may not perform unless they are well educated."
Shahidullah's book will be used for the course, "CJ 496 Comparative Criminal Justice."
It is a long-standing course now revised to explore the challenges of law enforcement
near and far from our borders. When discussing the Middle East with his students,
Shahidullah examines Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran in terms of Islamic criminal
justice, and the way it conflicts and converges with modern law. There also are explorations
of how legal institutions in England, Canada, Germany, Japan and Australia are becoming
more similar to each other in sex offender registration, criminalization of child
abuse, sexual harassment, domestic violence and the victimization of people with alternative
Shahidullah said the book will be used in the classroom at ECSU in fall 2013. His
students will learn far more from the class than any TV crime show will ever reveal.