PACCE supports criminal justice projects

April 12, 2013

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PLATTEVILLE, Wis. — The Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement helps fund projects that engage students in community-based learning. During this semester, Dr. Sabina Burton, professor of criminal justice, is conducting three projects through PACCE that engage many of her students in stimulating learning and showcases UW-Platteville.

Burton’s Police Function class, with 95 students, has taken on a project that may breathe new life into unsolved homicide and abduction cases. Students work in teams of 4-5 to review a cold case in the tri-state area and beyond, collecting information on the perpetrated crime, victimology, persons of interest in the investigation, potential leads and theories of the crime. Crimes of this nature have much lower clearance rates after the first 48 hours and often go cold if not solved quickly. As time passes, fewer resources are allocated to these cases because the diminished chance of success lowers the case priority. Past victims, some of them never identified, are often forgotten, but Burton’s class gives them new attention with a fresh perspective. “The cold case team projects engage students; it is difficult work that involves problem solving,” said Burton. “Students need to know why they want to work in the criminal justice field and this project is a way to motivate them to do so. Police work is all about teamwork and through this project the students learn to work as a team.”

At the completion of their research project, each student group puts together a poster, a PowerPoint presentation and a report based on their findings. These materials are passed on to the community partner, Steve Moore, a former 25 year FBI veteran and national security specialist who is currently working on a TV show about cold cases titled, “On Further Review.” Mr. Moore is available to answer students’ questions by email if they need his expertise.

Dr. Burton’s Women and the Law class, with about 70 upperclassmen, is conducting a PACCE project focused on human trafficking. Teams of 3-4 students collect information on human trafficking cases in the U.S. as an inter-state and transnational problem.  “This project helps to shed light on the issue of human trafficking and exploitation,” said Burton. “The problem is bigger than most people would expect. Through PACCE, we can make the UW-Platteville community aware of this complex and very real issue.”

Kyle Schewe, a junior criminal justice major from Oregon, Wis. is enrolled in Burton’s Women and the Law course. “We have great resources on campus in criminal justice,” said Schewe. “UW-Platteville has met my expectations. I am learning a lot and have been given great opportunities. Dr. Burton does a lot for our class on her own because she cares about students and the profession.” Schewe plans to have a career in community police work where he can work with and for people. Schewe, together with Shelby Peterson and Ashley Henry, will present their human trafficking research to the public and Wisconsin legislature at the Madison Rotunda on April 17, 2013 from 10 am to 3 pm.

Steve Moore has volunteered to be the community partner for this human trafficking project as well and has been available for consultation. Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General Karie Cattanach, who is the human trafficking point person for the litigation unit of the Attorney General’s Office, has also agreed to answer students’ questions and provide further insight into this topic both in person and by email.

The third PACCE project Burton is working on offers undergraduate research opportunity to students in the Department of Criminal Justice who are interested in restorative justice. In fall 2012 Burton teamed up with Ridge and Valley Restorative Justice, a non-profit organization that provides victim-offender and family conferencing, neighborhood and community mediation and community education regarding the principles of restorative justice. Since then, 15 of her students have gone through mediation training and became certified restorative justice mediators and two students are currently conducting research in restorative justice.  Brittany Fitzgerald and Keith Lucas, are working closely with community partner Robin Cline from the Ridge and Valley Restorative Justice Program and attended a restorative justice conference in Milwaukee, Wis., in March. Their trip was funded by PACCE.

“PACCE provides funding to allow students to engage in community projects, travel where necessary, and encourages and recognizes students’ efforts,” said Burton. “The job market in criminal justice is very competitive. These PACCE projects help to set students at UW-Platteville apart from other applicants.”

This is Burton’s first time working with PACCE to conduct projects with her students in criminal justice. The students will present their casework at the PACCE Poster Day on April 24 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Velzy Commons and at the UW-Platteville Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors Symposium on April 29 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in Ullsvik Hall.

Contact: Dr. Sabina Burton, criminal justice, (608) 342-1650, burtons@uwplatt.edu

Written by: Ethan Giebel, UW-Platteville University Information and Communications, (608) 342-1194, giebele@uwplatt.edu

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