Posted: 2/08/24

TAMIU's Dr. Lee Co-Presents Research at a UN Event


Dr. Seungmug (Zech) Lee  

A Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) faculty member will co-present research he and a colleague conducted on a church-based correctional facility in South Korea at a United Nations (UN) event on crime and poverty Wednesday, Feb. 14 at the UN General Assembly Building in New York City.

Dr. Seungmug (Zech) Lee, TAMIU associate professor of Criminal Justice, and Dr. Robert McCrie, professor of Criminal Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will be featured co-presenters at the UN event, "The Intersection Between Crime and Poverty."

The scholars will address the UN's Civil Society and Outreach Unit, Division of Social Policy and Development, Department of Economic and Social Affairs as they present results of their research project, "A Church-based Private Prison in South Korea."

The two scholars will attend the event at the invitation of the Interfaith Prison Partnership (IPP) a community-based, interfaith non-profit organization that exists to increase awareness of the inherent value of incarcerated individuals, promote and provide for their welfare, and connect local communities with their neighbors behind bars.

"It is a great honor to be invited as a featured speaker with my colleague at the UN event in NYC," Dr. Lee said, "I can represent TAMIU and our international aspects at the UN."

Dr. Lee and Dr. McCrie's project evaluates the 10-year operation of a new church-based private prison in South Korea.

"This type of prison facility and management is the only one in the world and a unique and innovative practice that is unheard of before," Lee said, "We had visited this facility over five years before the COVID-19 Pandemic."

The evaluation focuses on the rate of recidivism (re-incarceration) as compared to the national average of recidivism.

"The project's preliminary analysis shows a three-year recidivism rate of about 10%, compared with about 23% for the national average in South Korea," Lee explained, "We plan to conduct a 15-year evaluation study and other research components," he said, adding that he is working on a book about this prison.

IPP acknowledged  Lee and McCrie's research project several years ago, he said.

"IPP shows interest in creative, innovative, and life-changing initiatives among prison management and rehabilitation practices around the world," Lee noted, "A story from South Korea was obviously intriguing enough to capture its attention."

Also attending the UN event will be the state commissioner of the New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the superintendent of Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, other researchers, speakers from Sweden and Kenya, and delegates from more agencies and organizations.

McCrie has visited over 200 prisons around the world in Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America, to observe prison management and operation and to interview inmates and prison staff, Lee explained.

Lee joined TAMIU's faculty in Fall 2023. He earned his doctoral degree from Rutgers University and his MS in Criminal Justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. His MA was also earned at Rutgers University. His research interests include: Church-based private prisons, mass shootings, burglar alarms, women burglars, private security, and crime prevention.

For more information, please contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services, at 956.326.2180, email prmis@tamiu.edu or visit offices located in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library, room 268.

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