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2016 Criminology Summer Experience
In June, the Department of Criminology hosted a one week no-cost immersion into the criminal justice system for high school students from 10 Hillsborough County high schools including the Law & Criminal Justice Academy at Jefferson High School. The program was developed and designed by USF Department of Criminology faculty member, Elizabeth Cass and Assistant State Attorney, Felix Vega from the 13th Judicial Circuit. Police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys and judges all volunteered to bring the material to life.
Utilizing a mock traffic homicide investigation, students learned how a case proceeds from investigation to arrest and ultimately makes its way before a judge and jury. The week began at the Tampa Police Department's Training facility where students had the opportunity to study a crash scene, learn about traffic accident investigations, participate in field sobriety tests, and drive the simulated impaired driving cart. The day was spectacularly topped off with a simulated car chase/hostage taking /SWAT team demonstration by the Tampa Police Department. Later in the week, students took part in a jury selection exercise, and watched closing arguments from Assistant State Attorney, Chris Castillo and private defense attorney Kim Seace. The week ended in the courtroom of Judge Lisa Campbell who gave the "jurors" jury instructions before bailiffs lead them to the jury room for deliberations.
The goal of the summer program was to provide a positive learning experience to encourage students' interest in attending college and pursuing careers in the field of criminal justice and criminology. We also hoped that interacting with criminal justice professionals would allow students to develop first hand impressions of the system. A student who thanked us for "restoring my faith in the police this week" gave us hope that we accomplished that goal.