“Sustainable Justice” was the theme of the 2012 Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences conference, which took place in New York City from March 13-17. Thirteen students from Fairmont State University’s Alpha Phi Sigma group attended the conference. Alpha Phi Sigma is the national criminal justice honor society, which was recognized over 25 years ago by ACJS as the future of the organization and holds a conference in conjunction with ACJS every year. While Alpha Phi Sigma offers its own activities, the students are free to participate in any of the ACJS events.
At the conference some 200 students from across the nation participated in a crime scene competition, a mock trial, scholarship and paper competitions, chapter competitions and a CJ College Bowl. They also heard from nationally-known speaker, Barney Brown, a man who was wrongfully imprisoned for almost 40 years.
Dr. Deanna Shields, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts, was also awarded the “Golden Lifetime Alumni Award” for her support and service to Alpha Phi Sigma as both a local and national advisor for almost 30 years.
FSU’s students also walked away the victors, placing first in the crime scene competition and the Outstanding Yearbook Competition. One of their teammates, Nicole Allison, also won a $250 scholarship.
“I am studying criminal justice because it is a field I have always been interested in. From the time I was a young child, I always gravitated toward mystery novels such as Nancy Drew and Sherlock Holmes and television shows depicting the system. Of course, I realize that the actual field is not as exciting as seen on TV, but I really enjoy my classes here at FSU. It is also a growing field, and one can really find almost any concentration they are interested in within the criminal justice system, from forensic accounting to white collar crime to psychology," said Allison, a second year Criminal Justice major with a concentration in law enforcement.
“My favorite part of the conference was the crime scene competition. I enjoyed everyone putting their ideas together about how the evidence fits to form a hypothesis about what happened at the scene,” said Brittany Shumate, a junior Criminal Justice major. This competition was very popular among the students, who had five minutes to process a scene, which included taking pictures, sketching the area, logging evidence and interviewing witnesses.
“I think my favorite part of the conference was the Retro Ball that the other national officers and I put together in celebration of Alpha Phi Sigma’s 70th anniversary. We asked the students to dress in attire from the '40s-'80s, which most of them did. We had prizes for 'Best Dressed' and 'Best Dancer' from each decade. Everyone had a really good time! It will definitely be hard to match for next year,” said Mariah Mills, who was elected as the national Vice President at last year’s Toronto conference.
The 2013 conference will be held in Dallas, Texas. Every year the students hold fundraisers and receive assistance from the University in order to attend these conferences.
About the photo: Criminal Justice students dressed up for "Retro" awards ceremony.