Criminology and Justice Studies

Criminology and Justice Studies Statement on the Pursuit of Justice in the Criminal Justice System

CSUN Criminology and Justiced Studies text with justice scales

The Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at California State University—Northridge joins with the many voices from academia and elsewhere in an unequivocal denouncement of systemic injustice on the basis of race or other dimensions of inequities in social and economic power.  The killing of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis on May 25 is yet another example of the myriad ways in which institutionalized inequities in the criminal justice system translate too often into acts of devastating violence impacting men, women, Queer, and transgendered persons of color.  While the focus has recently been on a Black man—George Floyd—the names of Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Sandra Bland, and many other women, Queer, and transgendered people of color need to be remembered as well.  We acknowledge the long history of institutionalized racism that has been enacted in targeted violence perpetrated by some members of law enforcement disproportionately against persons of color, all too often with deadly consequences.  We also denounce the persistent and institutionalized neglect in holding officers accountable for that violence.  Criminology and Justice Studies stands with those who seek justice in the names of those like George Floyd who are victims of institutionalized violence and who seek changes that will better ensure that all received equal protection under and treatment by the law.

Our words of support are not enough.  The proof of our commitment must be in our actions.  We recognize that our very existence has been controversial given the manner in which some criminal justice programs have been administered across the country.  The Department of Criminology and Justice Studies at California State University—Northridge was established as a department that is grounded in the study of justice, recognizing that justice and criminal justice are not synonymous and that justice is not equitably distributed within the criminal justice system.  We prepare our students to work as ethical and critical voices within the criminal justice system to help transform the system into one that is more just and equitable in its treatment of its citizens.  Our goal is to educate students in an understanding of the system as it stands including close examination of criminal justice reform including (but not limited to) examining miscarriages of justice, alternatives to traditional criminal justice processing (including restorative justice), and changes to policies and fiscal priorities within law enforcement and other aspects of the criminal justice systems in the city, county, state, nation, and globally.  Empowering our students, the majority of whom come from communities of color, to become agents of positive change is a central part of our mission.  Our students come from highly diverse backgrounds and have been--and will be--an important contribution to the diversity of voices in the field of justice.  We seek to continue and deepen our justice-centered education to more deeply reflect intersectional perspectives from multiple communities.  Part of better understanding how to achieve this goal will involve broader and more direct outreach to departments addressing racial, ethnic, gender, class, ability, age, and sexuality diversity to provide insight into our curriculum and ways we can better partner to improve as a program which sensitively and constructively teaches our students who will work in criminal justice, social justice, and other justice-related jobs.

Justice is broader than criminal justice, and we recognize and pledge to take action to improve justice within the criminal justice system.  We will continue to seek ways in which our department can participate in endeavors that will reform and transform law enforcement and other criminal justice areas.  Criminology and Justice Studies seeks to partner with those agencies who value higher education in new employees and in the use of research and insights from higher education in the planning and implementation of meaningful change.  Whenever and wherever possible, we will bring a critical and transformative perspective to the system’s efforts at true, honest, and consequential change.  Departmental faculty dedicate themselves to addressing the issue of systemic racial and other bias through research which examines and highlights inequality for better understanding and to guide systemic reform to improve the criminal justice system.  Criminology and Justice Studies students are also engaged as contributors to this research when possible.  We commit to an ongoing engagement in training in implicit bias for those who teach within the department and to partner with other departments across campus to improve ourselves from within.  We will continue and strengthen our continued engagement in seeking the best ways to recruit and retain our diverse students.  Likewise, our commitment to recruiting and retaining faculty who represent our students and community is of paramount importance to all we do, and we see this quest as essential to our continued ability to participate in efforts toward change in the system.

Criminology and Justice Studies stands with those who are on the side of justice and elimination of systemic racism whether it be overt or covert.  We stand in partnership with the CSUN community and the community at large in the elimination of discrimination and violence reflective of racism and other systems of unequal power and privilege.  We offer our research, teaching, and partnerships toward all efforts to improve justice across our community.