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CJ Graduate Students Help Compile Textbook

University Relations

Criminal Justice Case StudiesIt started as a graduate course assignment; the end result was a textbook, written with the help of Charleston Southern University master of science in criminal justice students.

The newly released Crime Scene Investigation Case Studies: Step by Step from the Crime Scene to the Courtroom by Dr. Jacqueline Fish and Jonathon Fish incorporates the research of the CSU MSCJ students.

Dr. Jackie Fish’s forensic students were using an outdated textbook that didn’t cover what Fish wanted her students to know. She had her students create case studies using fictitious characters, agencies and locations.

The book’s cover description says: “DNA does not solve criminal cases – people do. Investigators must document every action, photograph every item of evidence and create a complete case file that can be used to convict the guilty and exonerate the innocent. Each chapter begins with an overview of the felony investigated in the case study and highlights a key area of crime scene investigation. You will then use the case studies to walk through the investigative process and learn by example to create accurate case files.”

Allison HarrisonAlison Harrison, a December 2012 graduate, is married to a firefighter who is knowledgeable about arson. She felt she had resources available to her to create a case study on arson. Harrison, Kierstin Flores and Sade’ Nelson produced a crime scene using forms collected from law enforcement agencies, staged evidence photos at Harrison’s home and had proportional sketches of the suspect drawn.

“Until I participated in the forensics class, I had no idea what a crime scene inspector would go through,” said Harrison. “It was intense.”

Fish said Harrison did a tremendous amount of work, compiling the work of two groups who created arson crime scenes into one chapter in the finished textbook.

Harrison said, “Dr. Fish is an amazing professor – you had to work for it, but you learned so much.” Fish set up a crime scene to teach the students how to photograph it, made sure the students had access to forms used by professionals and even made the students interact with a typewriter because many rural law enforcement groups still use one.

“I learned that working an actual crime science isn’t something I’d like to do,” said Harrison. “I enjoyed the research aspect of it, the digging.” Harrison currently teaches computer courses at Berkeley Middle School and would like to teach criminal justice at some point.

Jennifer Drizis MosherJennifer Drizis Mosher ’12 is a loss prevention manager for Lowes and would one day like to be a court administrator using what she learned preparing her thesis in the master’s program. “There is a need for jury training in the courts,” she said.

Mosher and her group staged a crime scene involving a lover’s triangle and a possible homicide/suicide. “Our staged pictures were realistic and went along with our case,” said Mosher. “All the groups kept their case studies hush, hush. We didn’t want to give away what we were doing.”

Those who purchase the Crime Scene Investigation Case Studies textbook will have access to online resources, including videos, photos, crime scene sketches and detailed forms utilized through every step of an investigation.

“Criminal justice has really grown across the country as a major,” said Mosher. “And, now, students will be using our textbook.”

Understandably, the 18 MSCJ students who assisted Fish in compiling the case studies for the book are pretty proud of the end result.

At the time the book was compiled, Fish was director of the graduate program in criminal justice and department chair of criminal justice. Currently, she is serving as Charleston Southern’s interim vice president for academic affairs.

Prior to coming to CSU, Fish was a crime scene investigator in the Knox County, Tennessee, Sheriff’s department, and she has worked with the National Forensic Academy, The University of Tennessee’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center and is an adjunct instructor for the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training at Louisiana State University.

Criminal justice graduate students who contributed to the textbook are: Jamar Meadows, Bruce Powers, Amanda Sisson, Amanda Albright, Tiffany Coleman, Lachelle Joyner, Connie Davis, Kenisha Woods, Kierstin Flores, Alison Harrison, Sade’ Nelson, Molly Bentley, Jessica Bogstad, Jeremy Dalton, Stevie Simmons, Courtney Barriere, Jennifer Drizis Mosher and Brittany Richardson. 

For more information on Charleston Southern University's Master of Science in Criminal Justice program, visit here.

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