Finlandia CJ students will visit Finland and Russia

HANCOCK – Finlandia University students taking criminal justice courses will get a chance to compare and contrast how Finland and Russia deal with crime during an overseas study program in the two countries in May.

Richard Gee, Finlandia assistant professor of criminal justice, said students will visit Finland first, then take a ferry from Helsinki to St. Petersburg, Russia.

Gee said on the trip – which runs from May 10 to 26 – students from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis., and the University of Tempere in Tempere, Finland will also attend.

Finlandia students will begin the program before the other students, Gee said, and they will visit the national police college in Tampere.

“Our students will be getting a little bit extra,” he said.

All the instruction for the course will be in English, Gee said.

Gee said crime in Finland is about the same as it is in the United States.

“They have the same scope of crimes we have here, but only 25 percent of them are sentenced for a year or longer,” he said. “Finland is regarded as gentle justice.”

Some of the prisons in Finland are open, Gee said.

“They’re like a halfway house on an institutional level,” he said.

Some of the Finnish prisons are closed, also, Gee said.

Gee said he will be learning about the Russian criminal justice system on the trip, also.

“I don’t know much about the Russian system, I have a general idea,” he said. “The Russian system is fairly severe.”

Gee said students will be visiting Kresty Prison in St. Petersburg, which was part of the Soviet gulag system for political prisoners.

Besides taking field trips to prisons and other features of the Finnish and Russian criminal justice system, Gee said students will be spending six or seven hours a day in class and hearing lectures. They will also have time for sightseeing.

Students will be graded for the course after returning to Finlandia, Gee said.

“They will have to keep a journal, and they’ll have to write a paper,” he said.

So far, Gee said three students have signed up for the trip to Finland and Russia, but up to 15 can go. Even if no more sign up, the trip will still take place.

Gee said he hopes the trip will be informative for the students.

“I think they will enjoy it,” he said.