In only its second year of existence, Geneva’s criminal justice program is already on the fast track to becoming one of the school’s premiere programs.
Millie Johnson, Criminal Justice Professor, said “At Geneva, we focus wholeheartedly on the restorative justice piece of criminal justice. We don’t just focus on the incarceration piece…we actually turn the table and ask students ‘what do we do for people when they get out of the system’.”
Geneva asks its criminal justice students to look at people leaving the system as people who have sinned and challenges them to seek ways to help these people to fulfill what Jesus has called them to be in life. That is the inherent difference between the Christian worldview and the approaches at many other institutions.
Johnson said that she also focuses on the entrepreneurship side of justice, which involves the establishment of programs designed to help restore people who have left the system. “If there isn’t something to catch someone, a program of some kind, it becomes an issue of reintegration into the system because they know nothing else.”
The criminal justice major seeks to provide students with real experience that will help them to fully understand the potential roles they will be filling as future police officers or in another part of the criminal justice system. This includes speakers from all parts of the field, trips to see working police stations and mock crime scenes.
The first mock crime scene occurred on October 20 and allowed students to participate in a crime scene that was treated as real in order to get valuable hands on experience. Students played all of the parts in the scenario and worked to provide care for those involved as well as collect evidence.
Students in Dr. Johnson’s Criminal investigations and procedures course created a scenario for the crime. It involved a love triangle featuring a husband, wife and her on-the-side boyfriend. The scene ended with all three dead; one by stabbing and two by gunshot.
When asked how students interacted with the scene, Johnson replied, “They did everything. I was involved, or course, I was the mother of the female victim. I wanted them to create the entire crime scene. That included police officers, investigators and a media/coroner. Everybody had a part.”
Students were responsible for the entire crime scene. This included taping the scene off with yellow tape, fake blood, fake weapons and paper clip bullets. They collected evidence off of the bodies, labelled it and placed it in evidence bags.
Johnson said, “I wanted [students] to get an opportunity to see the procedures of how a crime scene operates… Once they are in the field they need to understand what it’s like to be a law enforcement officer and to be the first reporting officer, so I wanted them to get an actual feel for what it’s like to arrive on a crime scene and to be able to render care and do your job at the same time in the midst of chaos.”
“They handled the chaos,” said Johnson on her student’s performance. “You would have thought it was a live scene. They did everything very professional. I’m so proud of them.”
Overall, Johnson is excited about the future of the program. “I’m having the time of my life,” she said. “I think that the program will continue to grow tremendously.”
(This program spotlight was published in Geneva’s fall campus newsletter in November 2015)