The Academy of Criminal Justice Science (ACJS) presented Dr. Prabha Unnithan with the prestigious Gerhard O.W. Mueller Award for Distinguished Contributions to International Criminal Justice at the International Section’s Annual Awards Luncheon during the 2022 ACJS Annual Meeting held in Las Vegas in late March. This annual award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of comparative/international criminal justice spanning the areas of scholarship, leadership, and service.
“In an academic career that spans five decades and multiple countries, Prabha has become one of the key leaders of comparative and international criminal justice,” wrote Dr. Sheetal Ranjan, Professor of Sociology & Criminal Justice at William Paterson University of New Jersey, and six colleagues from institutions across the United States in their nomination. “With his support, ACJS has had a prominent role in official UN [United Nations] activities and in collaborative endeavors with other organizations (e.g., Criminologists without Borders and Zonta International).”
Prabha served as the 2019–2020 ACJS President, 2018–2019 First Vice-President, and 2013–2016 Secretary. He served as President of the Western Social Science Association (WSSA) in 2014–2015 and has assumed various leadership roles for the American Society of Criminology, the American Sociological Association (ASA), and the Midwest Sociological Association.
Prabha received CSU’s College of Liberal Arts 2018–2019 John N. Stern Distinguished Professor Award. He has been a CSU Department of Sociology faculty member since 1987. He is also an Adjunct Professor at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman in Malaysia.
In 2017, Prabha was honored with the Government of India’s Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) Award and was invited to return to his alma mater H. S. Gour Central University to give a series of live lectures as well as record in-studio for later broadcast on the university’s education channel. In 2021, Prabha was invited to give the plenary address for the British Society of Criminology’s annual conference and write a piece for its international newsletter analyzing the United States’ criminal justice system under the Trump and Biden presidencies.
Throughout his career, Prabha has published five books and 120 articles and book chapters on comparative and international criminal justice. He has served as editor of The Social Science Journal and The Journal of Criminal Justice Education and as a co-editor of The Sociological Quarterly.
“He has also served as an important bridge between academia in the United States and South/Southeast Asia, introducing advanced criminological perspectives to diverse audiences in India, Malaysia, and the United States,” wrote Dr. KuoRay Mao, Associate Professor of Sociology at CSU, in his nomination of Prabha. “Moreover, Prabha has served as a consultant for multiple cross-cultural and policing training programs in the criminal justice professions in Malaysia, Singapore, India, and the United States.”
Prabha’s research and teaching involve a range of topics related to criminology and criminal justice. His expertise is frequently sought by community organizations and the media near and far. Throughout his 35 years on CSU’s campus, Prabha has made many contributions to the Sociology program including establishing the Criminology and Criminal Justice concentration, advising the undergraduate Criminal Justice Organization, leading the department’s Criminology & Criminal Justice annual summer study abroad program in Prague, co-founding the Center for the Study of Crime and Justice, mentoring junior faculty, and advising graduate students.
“Dr. Unnithan’s comparative research has continued to inspire generations of international criminologists around the world,” KuoRay also wrote. “His service on an ASA Task Force to study the relationship between Sociology and Criminology contributed to a report that has been used by Criminology and Sociology programs worldwide.”
As Dr. Ranjan and colleagues noted, “Prabha’s leadership in comparative/international criminal justice issues stems from his deep belief in a global approach to solving the most pressing criminal justice problems of our times.”
This ACJS outstanding scholar award is named after Gerhard O.W. Mueller who many criminologists around the world consider to be the “father” of international/comparative criminal justice. He not only founded the United Nations Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Branch but through his teaching, research, and mentoring he helped to create a body of knowledge and a generation of scholars that will serve the field for many years to come. This information and more about Mueller can be found here.