Study Abroad in Portugal

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Criminal Justice in Portugal

Your Journey Starts Here - May 28 - June 11 2019
Landscape of Portugal
About The Program
Landscape of Portugal Landscape of Portugal

Queen Of The Sea

With ASU's Lisbon Study Abroad program, you'll accompany Professor Jason Armstrong to Lisbon, Portugal, the capital and largest city in the country. You'll explore the impact of Portugal's unique criminal justice system while growing an understanding and appreciation of the local culture.

Portugal was the first Western country to decriminalize possession of all drugs and illicit substances--a move which received a lot of criticism 18 years ago, but now sets an example for reduced drug-related crime and addiction rates. As other countries move to analyze this model, so will ASU's Criminal Justice students. You will visit Portuguese coalitions for HIV/AIDs, community inclusion groups, and centers for rehabilitation and addiction recovery. You will also have guest lectures by law enforcement specialists; your own coursework will revolve around understanding how all these moving parts work together to support the Portuguese system and compare it to our own system in the U.S.

A Word From The Professor

Prof. Jason Armstrong, Portugal Program Coordinator

In the United States, individuals found in possession of small amounts of marijuana, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, and other nonprescription drugs face incarceration and a felony conviction. Here, being a convicted felon means the loss of certain constitutional rights and convicted felon drug abusers are stigmatized by U.S. society. Often, poor choices a person made as a young adult will affect their entire life.

In 2001, Portugal took the radical step of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of any type of drug. Rather than incarcerating drug addicts, Portuguese officials focus on treatment. Individuals caught with small amounts of drugs are referred to commissions that can impose administrative sanctions, such as counseling, therapy, or community service. Since 2001, Portugal’s overall drug use has gone down significantly. Prior to this policy change, Portugal had the highest HIV infection rate in Europe. Now they have one of the lowest. Drug-related deaths have decreased dramatically. Such improvements are not solely the result of the decriminalization policy; Portugal’s shift towards a more health-centered approach to drugs, as well as wider health and social policy changes, are equally, if not more, responsible for the positive changes observed.

Lisbon, the capital and largest city in Portugal, is the epicenter of these policy implementations. The largest drug treatment center in Portugal is located in Lisbon. There are methadone maintenance vans located throughout the city offering an opioid substitute. Harm reduction street teams that do a direct intervention with active IV drug users, including refugees, chronically homeless people, and sex workers. ASU students will have the ability to see firsthand how these best practices are being implemented in real-world settings.

More Details
Landscape of Portugal Landscape of Portugal

About The Course

CRJU 4620

The special topic(s) for this course will be to learn about and understand Portugal’s unique approach to the illegal drug epidemic. In March 2018, the U.S. government sent a 70-person delegation to Portugal to understand how their system works and learn what their best practices are. The goal is to see what can be implemented here in the U.S. to stem the use of illicit drugs and the skyrocketing rate of drug-related overdose deaths. The U.S. approach has been to incarcerate and stigmatize drug users. By most accounts, this approach has failed and new methods are needed.

If the U.S. government is sending top officials to learn from Portugal’s experiment, we should be sending our students there as well. Our students will be the next generation of criminal justice professionals who will be trying to tackle the drug epidemic. The U.S. does not have a monopoly on innovative ideas and we should seek solutions both inside and outside of our own borders.

Visits to Belizean companies like Beltraide, Belize Tourism Board, Belize Natural Energy, and others give students the opportunity to experience international business first-hand and learn from experts in their field.

Price, Contacts & Deadlines
View of castle in Portugal


This price includes airfare, lodging, transportation, meal stipends, company visits, and cultural excursions.
*does not include tuition or transportation from Albany to Atlanta

Payment Schedule

Date Description
October 15 $100 early application
November 18 $200 regular application
November 30 $540 installment
December 31 $760 installment
January 30 $760 installment
February 28 $760 installment
March 31 $560 final installment


Date Description
October 15 Early ASU Application
November 18 Regular ASU Application
Apply online!


Prof. Jason Armstrong, Program Coordinator (229) 500-2376
Study Abroad Adviser (229) 500-2021

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Study Abroad Events

Event Description
East Campus Study Abroad Fair August 29, 11a-3p
Student Center
West Campus Study Abroad Fair August 30, 11a-3p
Student Center
East Campus Scholarship Workshops 2-175 Student Center
September 5, 12:00 - 1:30
September 26, 1:30 - 3:00
West Campus Scholarship Workshops C-203 Student Center
September 12 12:00 - 1:30
September 19, 1:30 - 3:00
Passport Caravans West Campus Student Center
September 19, 11:00 - 1:00
East Campus Student Center
September 26, 11:00 - 1:00