Shreveport Times, LA
Nov. 5, 2004
Exchange students learn Bossier Parish judicial system
By Loresha Wilson
By Loresha Wilson
Fatima Ibrahimova asked how inmates get married while incarcerated. She
wanted to know if law enforcement officers are ever arrested and if
anyone has escaped from the Bossier Parish Jail.
Heghine Kosakyan questioned whether men and women share the same cell
blocks and if an inmate’s living condition is based on the nature of
the crime committed.
Ibrahimova and Kosakyan, both 17, are foreign exchange students who,
through the Aspect Foundation, received scholarships from the U.S.
State Department to study democracy and the criminal justice system in
the United States. They, along with two other scholars, live in
different areas of Indiana, but for the next couple of days will spend
time in the Shreveport/Bossier City area visiting a local outreach
mission, delivering goods to a homeless shelter and volunteering at a
On Thursday, the group spent a half day touring the Bossier Parish
sheriff’s office and learning the daily operations of the office. Ed
Baswell, sheriff’s spokesman, showed the students around the courthouse
and it’s maximum security jail and they also visited the Bossier Parish
Penal Farm and the parish’s 600-bed medium security facility in Plain
Dealing, where they stood in the control room and watched about 80
female inmates who share two cell blocks. The women eat together,
shower together and sleep together, which was strange to the students.
`This is a little different than where I am from,’ Kosakyan, of
Armenia, said. `In my country there are people who are in jail and
can’t watch TV. There are only four to five people to a cell and they
have their private bathrooms. Here they have no privacy.’
The group also met an investigator with the district attorney’s office
and set in on a couple of court procedures.
Hasmik Sukiasyan, also of Armenia, was curious if the electric chair is
used for execution in Bossier Parish, then asked how often the inmates
The girls were four of 300 students awarded scholarships for the
program out of 54,000 applicants, said Jayme Tunis, Indiana regional
development director for the Aspect Foundation. They were chosen for
their academic, civil, and leadership abilities, and are most likely to
become future leaders of free nations once under communist control. The
students spend 10 months in America learning about democracy, community
service, government, cultural diversity and more, Tunis said. Upon
returning to their native countries, they will serve on a panel for
three years discussing their experiences here.
`They have superior IQs,’ Tunis said. `These girls are studying to be
future leaders of their countries. It is hoped that the ideals and
doctrines they experience here in America will enable them to implement
the same in their own countries.’
Ibrahimova, of Azerbaijan, plans to study international law. She speaks
six different languages, but says she’ll return to her native country
to attend college.
`I want to be an attorney,’ she said. `Right now I’m learning
everything I can in case I come back to the United States. I read a lot
of books about the criminal justice system here, and things are pretty
much like what I have read. It’s great.’
Kosakyan and Jasmin Grund of Germany also plan to study law. Sukiasyan,
16, wants to be a doctor.
Ibrahimova said, `I didn’t expect the people here to answer all the
questions I had, but they did.’