Criminal justice professor Mitchell Roth says he enjoys being involved with his Bearkat students. With his spot on the criminal justice intramural softball team, his position as advisor for the Theta Chi and LAE fraternities on campus and his work for a study abroad program, it’s clear that Roth means what he says.
“It’s hard for me to realize I’m not their age anymore,” Roth said.
Roth came to Sam Houston State University almost 10 years ago, after completing his undergraduate studies at the University of Maryland and his master’s and doctorate studies at the University of California at Santa Barbara. He earned each of his degrees in history, which he said is what brought him to SHSU.
“It gave me the opportunity to teach history related classes,” he said. “I am a rarity in the field of criminal justice in that I specify in historical issues.”
With a diverse background in such things as the history of journalism, policing and organized crime, Roth said his work at Sam Houston really benefits his interests.
“Here, I can specify in the history of crime and punishment, which is my main interest,” he said.
Roth said his classes focus on history, including organized crime, policing and murder.
“The History of Murder is the most popular class I teach,” he said.
In the fall, Roth will be teaching a new course in terrorism.
For the last few years Roth has worked the study abroad program in London teaching the History of England Criminal Justice. Roth has studied not only in England, but also in Cuba, Italy and Belgium.
Besides his work at Sam Houston, Roth has written several articles and books. He said his seventh book, “Crime and Punishment-The History of Criminal Justice”, is due to come out this year. He is also working on two more books, “Global Prison Systems”, and one concerning the history of criminal profiling.
In addition, Roth serves as the historian for the Department of Public Safety in Austin. Every five years he writes the history of the state, which the department publishes.
Roth has also appeared on several news documentaries in recent years, including stories on the escape of death row inmates, patterns of serial killers and the Mafia in Sicily.
He said his knowledge on historical issues has brought him the attention from the media.
“My involvement in criminal justice is very serendipitous,” he said. “People are just now realizing the importance of history in this field.”
Roth said making himself available to students is very important to him, and that every semester he gives his students his home phone number.
He said besides the academia he teaches them, he wants his students to never give up on their goals, and to remember that grades aren’t everything.
“Knowledge is more important than grades,” he said.
Roth said he also hopes his students will find what interests them in life when they graduate.
“You should pursue what interests you,” he said, “not what will make you a dollar.”