Bahiyyah Muhammad, PhD

Associate Professor of Criminology, Howard University

Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad is an Associate Professor of Criminology in the Department of Sociology at Howard University (HU) in the District of Columbia (DC). Dr. Muhammad is also Founding Director for the Higher Education in Prison (HEP) Programming across all three campuses at the university and the HU Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. To date, Professor Muhammad has spearheaded HEP courses and innovative programs offered through Howard University’s Schools of Law, Divinity, Communications, Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences. These graduate seminars and undergraduate classes have occurred in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), the DC Department of Corrections (DCDOC), the Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) and the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) detention facilities in Maryland and Washington, DC. To date, approximately one thousand Howard students, alumni, faculty, incarcerated, and formerly incarcerated individuals have participated in classes inside prisons, jails and detention facilities in D.C., Maryland and Virginia. Under Dr. Muhammad’s leadership, Howard University became the first HBCU to offer award winning post-secondary education to incarcerated females, males, detained juveniles and their families, simultaneously.

Most recently, Dr. Muhammad was selected as a 2020-2021 Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Fellow for the U.S. Government’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) and the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX). Through this fellowship, Dr. Muhammad will spend the year working with an African Leadership Fellow to expand prisoner and juvenile refugee programming in the Kingdom of ESwatini (known as Swaziland), located in Southern Africa. Specifically, Dr. Muhammad will travel to Swaziland in 2021 to provide face-to-face expert consultation at Mawelawela Correctional Centre and Mpaka Refugee Camp for STEM classes and empowerment programming for detained female youth. In 2017, Dr. Muhammad served as a Franklin Fellow at the U.S. Department of State. In this position, she reviewed the U.S. policy on human rights for children and helps to design new approaches to assist the U.S. government in addressing the issue. Dr. Muhammad served within the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor in the Office of Multilateral and Global Affairs. Furthermore, Dr. Muhammad has been the recipient of various service awards for her engagement with correctional facilities. Most recently, she was a Featured Honoree for Voices for A Second Chance-50the Anniversary Gala and was award the Carolyn Cross Community Impact Award for her groundbreaking work with the DC Department of Corrections.

In addition, in 2018, Dr. Muhammad was awarded with the George Strawn Volunteer Award for her innovative programming and college courses offered to scholars in the DC Jail’s Correctional Treatment and Detention Facilities. Dr. Muhammad’s prison services were also awarded by the Federal Bureau of Prisons in 2016. She was recognized as Volunteer of the Year for her MOM Camp program that allowed children of incarcerated parents to “sleepover” at a federal prison camp with their incarcerated mothers who completed her college course, “Special Topics: Children of Incarcerated Parents”. In 2015, she received a Human Rights Award from the New Jersey Education Association, which was an advocacy award for her service to school-aged children affected by parental incarceration. This work was highlighted through the Newark Public Schools Superintendent in 2018, in the VICE of HBO Segment with Michael K. Williams, entitled “Raised in the System”, which she worked with Newark Elementary Students of the incarcerated. This film highlights success and resilience among those affected by mass incarceration and is aligned with Dr. Muhammad’s recent TED talk on this topic.

For more than a decade, Dr. Muhammad has been conducting groundbreaking research on the children of incarcerated parents and the consequences of parental incarceration on children. Dr. Muhammad has done hundreds of interviews with affected children and parents in the United States, Uganda, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates. She has published research on the impact of parental incarceration – from witnessing a parent’s arrest by police to the physical and emotional separation resulting from actual incarceration – on children, their parents, and familial bonds, as well as children’s success stories. Dr. Muhammad is co-founder of Project Iron Kids, an initiative to educate and empower children of incarcerated parents. She co-published the first coloring book for children of the incarcerated, titled The Prison Alphabet: An Educational Coloring Book for Children of the Incarcerated. Her work has been translated in Spanish, Arabic, Chinese and French. In addition, Dr. Muhammad is the author of two criminal justice textbooks, is working to complete a manuscript on success and resilience among children of the incarcerated and a co-edited anthology titled “Mothering From The Field” (Rutgers University Press). Her research has been published in the Journal of Criminal Justice and Law Review, the Journal of Gender, Social Policy and the Law and the American University Business and Law Review.

Dr. Muhammad has served as an invited speaker inside prisons, jails and detention centers around the world. Her research, innovative programming, study abroad enrichment sessions and college courses have exposed students to global issues of imprisonment in Africa, Asia, Europe, the United Arab Emirates and the United States of America. Dr. Muhammad is an innovative educator that utilizes a radical pedagogy to engage students in an intellectual journey that is described as, “empowering”, “transformative”, “critical” and “freeing”. Her classes have been dubbed the “Dr. Muhammad Experience” and have won her the title of Professor of the Year 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2019. In addition, Dr. Muhammad voluntarily lived in a cell for a weekend (January 15-17, 2016) to gain a more holistic understanding of life behind prison walls. Dr. Muhammad is a unique educator working strategically to change the landscape of higher education, as it is known today. Dr. Muhammad was recently nominated for the very prestigious Global Teachers Prize for her groundbreaking instruction. Professor Muhammad’s newest revolutionary course, the only of its kind in the world, Policing Inside Out initiated through a partnership with the International Association of Chiefs of Police, brings together law enforcement officers and black millennials to engage in brutally honest dialogue, trust building excursions and critical readings on minority community-police relations. Now offered at Morgan State University and Coppin State University, Policing Inside Out has transformed the ways in which inter-departmental law enforcement agencies police in Black communities.

Prior to Dr. Muhammad’s academic tenure, she served as Director of the College Bound Consortium (CBC), a HEP program founded in 2010 to educate incarcerated persons in New Jersey. The CBC was facilitated at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women (EMCF) in Clinton, NJ through a partnership between Drew University, Raritan Valley Community College (RVCC) and the Drew Theological School’s Partnership for Religion and Education in Prison (PREP). During this time, Professor Muhammad taught classes at EMCF and Northern State Prison (NSP) and arranged for faculty across both campuses to teach a variety of courses to approximately 200 incarcerated women in New Jersey.

Dr. Bahiyyah M. Muhammad received her B.A. in Administration of Justice with a minor in Psychology and a Criminology Certificate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in New Brunswick. She received her M.A. in Corrections Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Her Ph.D. in Criminal Justice with a specialization on children of incarcerated parents was received from Rutgers University, School of Criminal Justice in Newark, New Jersey. Professor Muhammad has taught courses at The New School-Urban Studies Department, West Chester University-Department of Criminal Justice, Rutgers University-School of Criminal Justice and currently serves as a tenured faculty member at the Howard University.

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