Honours student Anne Marie Ionescu always had an interest in criminology. But while most may think that forensics and law may be a big part of it, she also found that critical to the study of criminology was an understanding of the political and social practices in place that relate to why people commit crimes.
“I had a small idea of what I’d be learning but I didn’t know you’d look at things like policing, comparative criminology, looking at the different policies that had been implemented in Australia compared to those in America or Europe,” Anne Marie said.
“I also learned that there are alternatives to the current system which I didn’t even think about.”
“Instead of using things like prison systems, we focussed a lot on therapeutic jurisprudence and looking at how the implementation of a rehabilitative process actually can provide the results that the public wants in terms of safety, whilst the current prison system is more politically based.”
While arguments exist for either, Anne Marie explains she learned there are ways in which you can push through harsher sentences – and it’s an economic approach – where you can create jobs and so on as well as having a hard justice stance.
“Those were probably the two biggest things that I learned,” Anne Marie said.
During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with the Police Prosecutions, and also took part in the comparative criminology study tour in Prato. Of her internship with Police Prosecutions, she says a lot of the different things that she had been looking at – from policies to organisations that worked with offenders – were aspects of her study that was then able to experience first-hand and witness how such policies were practically implemented.
These real-world experiences were critical.
“Most of the knowledge that I’ve gained during my undergraduate studies has been through first having the information and the research from the units, but then being able to apply it in a practical setting. And being able to talk to people and seeing how it actually affects them personally,” Anne Marie said.
Having received the bursary in family violence, Anne Marie is now undertaking her Honours year, looking at same-sex inter-partner violence to discern whether a different type of violence exists in such relationships as opposed to same-sex violence.
The idea for the thesis came from her internship after talking to police prosecutors and police lawyers, as well as talking to American police on the American comparative criminology tour during her time in the Castro district in San Francisco, which has a high LGBTIQ community.
She credits Criminology lecturer Dr James Roffee for what she describes as his “dual approach” to teaching, recognising that his legal background allows for him to share the practical realities of criminology and law.
Referring to the Prato tour, Anne Marie said Dr Roffee created tasks that allowed students to learn independently and work towards understanding the different concepts and sharing between others peers.
“You’d pick a country and an issue and you had to structure a specific report, so we would learn how to do that report and once it was finished we would collate it with the rest of the class and understand a brief synopsis of what each country was like,” Anne Marie said.
“His teaching was academic based, but then he was able to provide a practical understanding for it.”
Her practical experiences coupled with her academic experiences within criminology have spurred Anne Marie to continue with her honours and commence a career within the field, whether in the Department of Justice or a private corporation which liaises with anyone related to criminology or family violence.
“The skills that criminology teaches you gives you a broad sociological and political perspective and really opens multiple doors, not just those of criminology,” she said.