Monday, July 16, 2012
Deepest, Darkest Africa
delves into prison reform on the 2nd largest continent
Released by Dessa Bayrock, UFV/Photo
Richele Doughty (red) and Vivian Chin
(white) speak with inmates during a tour of a prison in Kenya.
student Richele Doughty was unsure about the specific topic for her
master's thesis, but she knew she had two passions she wanted to
pursue: criminal justice, and Africa.
Luckily, with the help of
UFV's School of Criminology and Criminal Justice and the supervision
of Dr. Hayli Millar, she was able to combine both.
"I was really unsure what my thesis was going to look like until
probably half or three-quarters of the way through the semester,"
Doughty says with a laugh. "I had a ton of ideas, I had done a
massive amount of research, and I knew I wanted to do something
Africa-related. I really only finalized my thesis when I knew for
sure I was going on the mission."
Doughty travelled to Kenya for a week with UFV faculty member Yvon
Dandurand and his wife Vivian Chin under the authority of the United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. Their goal in Africa was to study
the way the prison system works in Africa, and to look for possible
The team worked in conjunction with the United Nations to study
Kenya's criminal justice system. Doughty says it was an honour to be
given the opportunity.
"It's humbling to go to another country and be invited into their
institutions, to help and offer advice," Doughty says. "The leaders
in the probation system really have a heart for what they're doing."
"So we were looking at alternatives that were available and possible
for Kenya - probation or community service as opposed to
incarceration. There are very high incarceration rates in Kenya. The
underlying idea is that there are too many individuals in the system
for them to be properly cared for."
This wasn't her first trip to Africa; Doughty spent six months
providing care in a children's home with Seeds of Hope (a non-profit
organization) five years ago in Ndola, Zambia, and later spent
another six months in Zambia as part of an internship establishing a
youth-led organization centered on employment services for Zambian
youth. These experiences really sparked her passion for Africa,
Doughty explains, and Africa became a second home to her.
"I always felt that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I felt
it in both Zambia and Kenya: that I was doing exactly what I was
supposed to be doing," Doughty explains. "There was a lot that was
difficult to see, and there was a lot of pain, but there was also so
much joy and peace. The people we met and worked with had so much
spirit and faith and hope - I can't explain how inspiring it was."
Although she was only in Kenya for a week, Doughty says she could
have easily spent much longer in Kenya.
"Even though I'd read all this literature and thought I had a decent
grasp of Kenya's criminal justice system, when I got there I
realized I knew nothing," Doughty says with a laugh. "It was
absolutely humbling. There's no other way to describe it."
Even though her thesis paper is finished and she graduated with her
Master of Arts in Criminal Justice degree this past June, Doughty
says her studies are far from over.
"I'm ready for a break, but I know I'll be going back to Africa -
I'm just not sure in what capacity," she says. "I've been given some
amazing opportunities, and no matter what path I venture on I want
to give back in the future. There are so many avenues I'd like to
Doughty says she sees herself studying further both in Africa and
the field of criminology.
"If I'm fortunate enough to be able to pursue a doctorate, I'd love
to dive more into the idea of youth vigilante justice in Africa,"
Doughty says. "Youth gangs emerge in the compounds and take justice
into their own hands as a result of a dissatisfied public who feels
justice has not been achieved by the courts. It's a scarier road to
travel, for sure, but I have a passion for youth, a passion for
criminal justice, and a huge love for Africa. Pursuing a career that
combines these three would be a dream come true."
Copyright (c) 2012 The Valley Voice