Monday, April 14, 2014

First Person: Professor Reginald Byron teaching TAVP in Intro to Criminology

Professor Reginald Byron at Southwestern University

Reginald A. Byron is an assistant professor of sociology at Southwestern University. His current research interests include race and gender stratification in occupational, educational, and criminological contexts. His work has appeared in Work and Occupations, The Journal of Higher Education, Gender & Society, and The Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency.

This is the fourth post in our First Person series, where we introduce some of the people behind the TAVP archive. Professor Byron is one of a growing number of teachers and professors who are incorporating TAVP interviews into their courses. We asked him if he would answer a few questions about his experience using the TAVP collection in his class.

First Person: Professor Reginald Byron on Teaching TAVP in Intro to Criminology

TAVP: For which course did you draw on TAVP interviews?

Byron: I used TAVP interviews in my Introduction to Criminology class. College students, from first years to seniors, seem to have a growing interest in criminology and criminal justice. 

As I began teaching my students about the differing perspectives of plaintiffs and defendants in criminal cases, I looked for some short examples that would resonate with the students. Then I remembered the work of TAVP because of the outreach of Dr. Rebecca Lorins. These important interviews provided access to the real world complexity of those directly involved in the criminal justice system and their families.

TAVP: How do you think the oral histories supplemented the other course material?

Byron: The triangulation of the oral histories added much to our discussion of criminal justice cases. Often, the humanity of the people involved in the criminal justice system is forgotten in favor of strict interpretations of legal statues and proceedings. The TAVP oral history project brings this back into the equation and attempts to present multiple perspectives on the same case. 

TAVP: What did you have your students do with the TAVP material? Can you describe an assignment?

Byron: The students had one assignment related to the TAVP project:
  • Read (assigned portions) of the TAVP website
  • Watch Ireland Beazley's full-length oral history interview
Visit the TAVP archive to listen to Ireland Beazley's full interview:

And visit our YouTube page to listen clips from Ireland Beazley's interview:

In this excerpt, Ireland discusses his experience at his son's trial.
  • Finally, please complete a two page write-up on your reactions to the Texas After Violence Project (TAVP). For example, what do you see as the mission of TAVP? What niche do you think TAVP fills in the justice system? Is it an example of restorative justice? Why or why not? Can you offer suggestions for the project's directors about ways to more effectively reach the mission as you understand it?
TAVP: How did the students react to the material you presented on TAVP?

Byron: The students' reactions were largely positive. Although some took issue with giving voice to those who they felt were responsible for crime, others suggested that "the strongest part about this program and what I think closely relates with restorative justice is their process and the simple aspect of listening to other people, being able to let someone speak without being interrupted and in a non-judgmental space."

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