Criminal Justice Studies

Crime & Justice Film Series Presents “Marathon: The Patriot's Day Bombing”

Crime and Justice Film Series flyer

The Crime & Justice Film Series is proud to present a film screening and discussion of Marathon: The Patriot's Day Bombing. This will be our 4th and final event of the semester, so please join us for pizza and refreshments as we think through and discuss this important episode in recent American history. Space is limited, reserve your ticket at our Eventbrite page.

Get ready to dive into the heart-wrenching story of the Patriots’ Day Bombing that shook the nation. This in-person event will take place in room LIB 121 at our library on Holloway Avenue. Don't miss this chance to be part of a compelling cinematic experience that will leave you inspired and moved. Come together with students, professors, attorneys, former law enforcement, and fellow movie enthusiasts and engage in thoughtful discussions afterwards.

If you have any questions, please contact the event organizers: Professor Jim Dudley ( and Dr. Albert de la Tierra (

Beyond Repair: 132 Years of Brutality in CA's Youth Prisons

Beyond Repair event flyer

The Crime & Justice Film Series is proud to present a film screening and inter-generational panel discussion with former wards of the state. Space is limited, reserve your ticket at our Eventbrite page.

Join us for an eye-opening event at the J. Paul Leonard Library room LIB 121 (1630 Holloway Avenue in San Francisco, CA, USA). Prepare to delve into the shameful history of California's youth prisons and the brutalities that have occurred within their walls. This in-person event will shed light on the 132 years of mistreatment and abuse that young individuals have endured. Get ready to confront the harsh reality and gain a deeper understanding of the need for change. Don't miss this opportunity to be part of the conversation and advocate for justice!

Interested in joining remotely? Details for live streaming the event will be provided on our Eventbrite page!

If you have any questions, please contact the event organizers: Dr. Albert de la Tierra ( and Tina Curiel (

New tenure-track faculty discuss importance of being authentic selves in scholarship

Many students and faculty members view San Francisco State University and the city in which it is located as sharing a unique spirit of social justice and progressivism. 

Cynthia Martinez, an assistant professor in SF State’s Department of Counseling, was drawn to SF State by the community, the spirit of activism and her department colleagues. She grew up hearing stories from her parents — who immigrated here from Guatemala — about coming to the Bay Area in 1967 and seeing the Black Panther Movement, Civil Rights Movement and Harvey Milk. “The spirit of San Francisco State has that, with ethnic studies and the inclusivity it is connected to,” she said.

Her scholarship interests lie in participant action research, including working with BIPOC families to create non-traditional therapeutic wellness groups and trauma-informed, antiracist advocacy and radical self-care for practitioners experiencing collective trauma.

Martinez appreciates her colleagues’ receptivity to her teaching style and her pedagogical frameworks centered on community organizing, popular education, trauma-informed clinical/school supports, decolonizing critical praxis and anti-racist advocacy. The reason for this, she said, is “because they themselves are striving to create an open and inclusive learning community for our students. And I deeply respect the work they have done.”

Albert de la Tierra, an assistant professor in Criminal Justice Studies, was drawn to SF State because of his department and its explicit attention to structures of power. Meeting the faculty in the Department of Criminal Justice Studies helped him decide that SF State was where he wanted to build a career. 

"The collegial culture that my senior colleagues and my department have built — because of the intentions they have to recognize, honor and value each other's humanity first, and to build constructive criticism from that appreciation of each other's perspectives — pushed me towards SF State,” said de la Tierra.

De la Tierra holds a Ph.D. and M.Phil. in Sociology from the CUNY Graduate Center, a B.A. in Criminology, Law & Society from UC Irvine, and advanced certificates in the Psychology of Leadership (Cornell), Critical Theory (CUNY), and Women's Studies (CUNY). He has years of experience teaching introductory and advanced undergraduate courses on qualitative research design, criminal justice studies and various sociological theories. He tailors coursework to students’ positionalities to promote their ability to interrogate the culture(s) in which they live.

"When I dare to be powerful — to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.” — Audre Lorde

The two faculty members were asked to consider the above quote from Audre Lorde and how it applies to their work. Both expressed that focusing on being their authentic selves in their scholarship is vital. Martinez says this is something she has struggled with in terms of traditional research, which is often quantitative and framed in a way that is “for the community, not with the community.” Being trained as an activist community organizer, going into the field of psychology, and seeing people writing about multiculturalism and thinking about social justice, she aims to find ways to lift the voices of the communities she works with.

Martinez emphasizes the question she asks herself: “How can we bring the spirit of the families we are working with, and the activism of the people whom I learn from and continue to learn from?” While reading the book “All About Love: New Visions” by bell hooks, she was inspired by the idea that love is a verb, an action. This quote helps answer her question, "I feel most powerful when talking about this because it is grounded in my communities, in families, and is founded in a lot of love.”

For de la Tierra, “daring to be powerful” means thinking about love and respect and analyzing scholarship, which can include problematic ideals. He says he considers it essential to be honest with the people he works with and those in his scholarship; he targets their work to demonstrate to his discipline that their work warrants a close reading and examination. “I want to push my people, my folks, beyond the frameworks that they are producing and reproducing.”

“Daring to be powerful is taking the risk of alienating myself from the small number of communities that I have in academia,” de la Tierra continues. He notes that it is easy to criticize backward frameworks or people one does not necessarily like. However, the whole goal behind academia and scholarship is to find colleagues who understand each other. “We are not here to only say what is good about what we do; the best thing I can offer and someone else can offer me is constructive criticism.”

Diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are frequently discussed in higher education, and SF State has long championed those values. On the subject of DEI in her own life, Martinez shares, “I live it every day, and so there is not a break… systemic oppression is a trigger of insidious trauma.” She focuses on intersectionality in how power differences play out in our lives and in the context of being Latin/Latinx/Latina. “What does that [intersectionality] mean when it has been grounded in anti-Blackness and anti-Indigeneity? … I often think about this in terms of identity, and it means intersectionality and how it comes across in class, race and gender.”

As people of color, both Martinez and de la Tierra have lived their whole lives contemplating not only DEI but also exclusion, marginalization, racism and the violence of the state through microaggressions. De la Tierra adds, “I have been reflecting on how I combat white supremacy in my community, how I subscribe to white supremacy ideologies without actually knowing, and how to work to undo that.”

De la Tierra believes that higher education aids in cultivating people who ask questions, are genuinely curious to know more and have the courage to question their beliefs and truths. “You can learn almost anything online… but the promise of being at a university, especially ours, is that you will be in a room with people who dedicated their life to becoming critical thinkers,” he said.

University to honor outstanding graduates at in-person Commencement

As part of a longstanding tradition, each of the University’s six academic colleges selects an undergraduate and a graduate student to represent their classmates and wear their college’s academic hood during the ceremony. Read below about the students selected for the honor of wearing the College of Health & Social Sciences academic hood. More details about the ceremony are available on the Commencement website.

Undergraduate Hood: Davina A. Wizzard

Davina Wizzard

Late in her senior year of high school in Valencia, California, Davina A. Wizzard (pictured above, left) had a nerve-wracking experience: She learned that her brother had been pulled over by police for a “routine stop.” The fear of what those stops could result in set her back to the summer of 2016. The horrifying stories she’d read online — about Black motorists and pedestrians killed by police during “routine stops” — had stayed with her.

For Wizzard, the experience was an awakening that shaped her college career at SF State. She sought out a job with the University’s Division of Equity and Community Inclusion, ultimately creating and coordinating programs on inclusion, diversity and the upliftment of marginalized communities. Those activities didn’t detract from Wizzard’s academics, however, and she graduated in three years with majors in Criminal Justice Studies and Creative Writing and a minor in Africana Studies, Summa Cum Laude.

Wizzard has begun applying to law schools so that she can continue her work for justice and inclusion in the nation’s courts.

Graduate Hood: Azisa Todd

Azisa Todd

Born and raised in Oakland, Azisa “Zi” Todd (pictured above, right) says she has the Oakland public education system to thank for grounding her in the principles of academic and community organizing. Upon graduating from high school, Azisa went to University of California, Los Angeles, where she served as a member (later director) of BlaQue, UCLA’s Black LGBTQ+ organization. Azisa developed and facilitated mandated anti-racism/Blackness workshops at UCLA, organized cross-campus conferences and spoke across the state. After graduating with a B.A. in Gender Studies, she decided to jump back into academia — and back to the Bay Area — to pursue a Master of Public Health at SF State.

As a graduate student, Azisa was instrumental in supporting the redesign of a cross-college minor in Feminist Health Studies. She also serves as an education and training coordinator within San Mateo County, leading LGBTQ+ awareness trainings for health systems and local organizations.

Azisa’s public health interests are in LGBTQ+ health and wellness, the intersectionality of Black and LGBTQ+ experiences, and community health education and training. She hopes to earn a Doctor of Public Health and share what she’s learned with college-level students.