Biography

Dr. Bahiyyah Muhammad is an Assistant Professor and Celebrity Instructor in the Department of Sociology and Criminology at Howard University in Washington, DC. 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 and 2016. Dr. Muhammad is the first teacher anywhere in the world to have students sleep in prison as a required part of their course curriculum. 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. This year she is nominated for the 2018 Female Faculty of the Year from the National HBCU Digest Awards. Her 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.

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, children of incarcerated parents' attitudes toward police, and the ways in which the strengthening of parent-child bonds through communication and prison programming can reduce recidivism among incarcerated parents.

Dr. Muhammad has spoken on panels nationwide – most recently, on a panel hosted by The Atlantic expanding on Ta-Nehisi Coates' conversation in his latest cover story The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration – as well as at the White House and in countries in Africa, Europe, and Asia. She has worked with the US Federal Bureau of Prisons, the US Virgin Islands Bureau of Corrections and Police Department on ways to develop recidivism reducing programming for incarcerated parents and police guidelines for conducting arrests when children are present, as well as the state corrections system in New Jersey.

Dr. Muhammad is 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”.

Most recently, Dr. Muhammad was awarded with the Faculty Research Grant for her National Study entitled, “Children of Incarcerated Parents: Exploring Pathways to Resiliency and Success”. This research project is funded by the Center for Advancing Opportunities (CAO)-Thurgood Marshall College Fund (TMCF) Grant. The objective of this project is to develop a better understanding of the factors that influence whether children will lead a crime-free life. Thus, study results will present a counter narrative to current research by highlighting emerging pathways to success. Through this research project, Dr. Muhammad has formed a graduate and undergraduate research team consisting of six Howard University students currently matriculated as students from Howard University’s, College of Arts and Sciences, within the Department of Sociology and Criminology.

Dr. Bahiyyah 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. 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’s - School of Criminal Justice in Newark, New Jersey in 2011. Dr. Muhammad’s doctoral dissertation entitled “Exploring the Silence Among Children of Prisons” was published during the summer of 2011. This longitudinal ethnographic study provides the framework for all her contemporary works.

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