The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice hosts annual Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference (CCJC)
By Dr. Simeon Sungi
The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice hosted the Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference (CCJC) 2021 from July 29- 30, 2021. This year’s conference was a virtual conference that brought together academics, practitioners, and students who presented academic work related to this year’s theme "Enhancing Access to Justice in the Criminal Justice System during a Global Pandemic”.
The Criminology and Criminal Justice Conference (CCJC) is a creation of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the United States International University-Africa (USIU-Africa). The CCJC’s mission is to provide a forum for academics, practitioners, and students pursuing disciplines of criminology, criminal justice, sociology, psychology, law, anthropology, political science, and others, a platform to share research and practical experiences relating to crime causation, crime prevention, criminal justice policy and reform. The CCJC is the only conference in the East and Central African region that brings together academics, practitioners, and students across the greater East African region, Africa, and the World. The inaugural Conference was held on June 19-20, 2018, and the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice has continued holding this annual conference in the Summer semester (June-July) every year.
Access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law. In the absence of access to justice, people are unable to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination, or hold decision-makers accountable. This goes hand-in-hand with the rights of the accused person in a criminal trial. The declaration of COVID-19 as a public health emergency forced criminal justice systems across the globe to create innovative ways in the delivery of justice. The effects of COVID-19 have been heavily borne by the criminal justice systems, most, which were not equipped to effectively function in the context of a pandemic.
This year’s conference hosted delegates from various criminal justice institutions. Among the delegates were scholars from various institutions of higher learning in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, the United Kingdom, and the United States together with criminal justice practitioners from Kenya and the East African region. The Chair of the 2021 conference was Dr. Joselyne Nkogo, the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellow, 2021, and an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in the United States. The Keynote speaker was Mr. Gerard Wandera, the Director of the National Crime Research Center. Mr. Wandera thanked the conference organizing committee for hosting the 2021 conference and that the theme was timely and thought-provoking. He thanked all the delegates for making time to share their experiences and research, which related to the conference theme.
Criminal justice students and alumni also had the opportunity to share their experiences on the training they are receiving and for alumni (received) in the department of sociology and criminal justice at USIU-Africa. It was gratifying to note how the program’s alumni were contributing to the field of Criminal Justice, both locally and elsewhere.
A total of 33 presentations were made in the two days of the deliberations. The papers focused on the following sub-themes:
- Gender, Human Rights and the Criminal Justice System, which was moderated by Dr. Njoki Wamai, an assistant professor of international relations at USIU-Africa, Kenya;
- Pandemic, Punishment and Probation Services, which was moderated by Dr. Joyce Muchemi, an assistant professor of criminal justice at USIU-Africa, Kenya;
- Crime, Justice, and COVID-19, which was moderated by Dr. George Kakoti, an associate professor of criminal justice at Tennessee State University, United States;
- Alternative Dispute Mechanism, which was moderated by Dr. Simeon Sungi, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at USIU-Africa, Kenya;
- The structural context of violent extremism, which was moderated by Dr. Victoria Gioto, a senior researcher at the National Crime Research Center, Kenya;
- Prosecution practices, which was moderated by Dr. Eric Kibet, an Assistant Professor of Business Law at USIU-Africa, Kenya;
- Training and the criminal justice profession, which was moderated by Elizabeth Otieno, a lecturer of Criminal Justice at USIU-Africa, Kenya;
- International criminal adjudication and the collection of evidence, which was moderated by Dr. Nabil Orina, a senior lecturer in law at Moi University School of Law, Kenya;
- Security and justice reform: Criminology and justice practice, which was moderated by Dr. Francis Sang, an assistant professor of criminal justice at USIU-Africa, Kenya.
The organizing committee is now preparing the conference proceedings that will be disseminated to all stakeholders in the criminal justice system in Kenya so that they can form part of evidence-based decision-making in the criminal justice system in the country, in East Africa, Africa, and globally. The Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice is looking forward to hosting the Conference again in July 2022.