By Bill Enfield
Office of Public and Employee Communications

Editor’s note: The Division of Criminal Justice at Sacramento State University is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Among the more than 16,000 graduates of the program over the decades are many CDCR staffers. Inside CDCR asked some of them to reminisce about attending the program and its effect on their careers.

Joseph Eyerman Graduation

Parole Agent I Joseph Eyerman, left, graduated with highest honors – Summa Cum Laude – from Sacramento State.

Joseph Eyerman, Parole Agent I

I have a ton of fond memories, but my favorite is wearing my father’s class ring from 1976 (BA Criminal Justice) when I graduated in 2016. I also am very thankful for their CJ program as it had a huge impact on my career.

I had applied to parole in 2010, but with only an AA Degree and a very competitive pool of candidates, I was not interviewed. After graduating from Sac State in 2016, I again applied to parole in 2017 and was hired.

In addition to my new position with CDCR, I am now also the vice president of the Alumni Association-Criminal Justice Chapter, and a recurring guest speaker for Sac State’s Alpha Phi Sigma (Criminal Justice Honor Society). I owe my professional growth to Sac State, and a lot of my personal growth as well.

My kids told me at my graduation from Sac State that they were proud of me. That meant the world to me; made it all worth it. Since that day, each of my kids has told me they want to get their degree as well. I love that.

(Joseph graduated with highest honors – Summa Cum Laude – in 2016. He also was awarded in Unit Citation medal for helping a stricken officer in 2016 when he was a correctional sergeant at Folsom State Prison.)

Heather Shirley, Chief Deputy Administrator, Wasco State Prison, Reception Center

I attended CSU-Sacramento and obtained my BS in Criminal Justice there in May of 2002. Being involved in the Criminal Justice program in the state capital was an amazing opportunity because there are so many state and federal agencies there.

Many of our professors were either retired from law enforcement or in many cases still working and teaching part time. I recall having a professor who worked narcotics for the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department. He shared photos of people who had been on methamphetamine for extended periods of time, as well as some stories and it really gave me a new appreciation for the work they do and some of those stories have stayed with me.

I applied to Corrections during a criminal justice career fair at CSU-Sacramento in 1999. On July 9, 2000, I entered the correctional officer academy. I credit CSU-Sacramento and the large emphasis on law enforcement careers with giving me the extra push toward corrections.

 Luis Hernandez, Correctional Officer

I graduated with my BS in Criminal Justice in May of 1992.  Attending school at CSUS was one of the best educational choices I made.  Being located in our state’s capital gave students there a great advantage being in proximity of so many local, state, and federal agencies.

This gave students attending CSUS a more in depth insight of the hiring process and job requirements. During my attendance, I was able to make contacts with several agencies that I was interested in joining.  I became involved with the on campus Criminal Justice Fraternity, Lambda Alpha Epsilon (LAE), Sigma Chi Chapter.

Part of the fraternity’s purpose was not only unification of students within the Criminal Justice Program, but to assist in broadening awareness of job opportunities. The CSUS campus worked the LAE fraternity in hosting law enforcement job fairs to all students in attendance.

During my studies I met a professor, Mr. James Hernandez, who I believe was a reserve lieutenant with a bay area police department. His approach to teaching was to immerse his students in real-time studies. His experiences while on duty gave relevance to the subject matters being taught.

In January 1994, I attended the Basic Correctional Officer Academy, graduated, and became a correctional officer.

Alyssa Jang, former student assistant with Workforce Planning

I graduated with my BS in Criminal Justice from Sacramento State in December of 2018.

The Division of Criminal Justice at Sacramento State prepared me to be a positive leader in the criminal justice community. My second year in at Sacramento State I was exposed to the Law Enforcement Candidates Scholars (LECS) Program.

The LECS program partners with local and state law enforcement agencies, Sacramento Police Department and California Highway Patrol, and allows the students to receive an exclusive and transformational education that serves as an effective pathway for them to fulfill their dreams of a career in law enforcement.

The program is a two-year program. The first year consists of workshops and the application process. The second year is the internship where you will get to work in your desired agency. Coming from a background with no connections to law enforcement it was difficult to understand what it takes to succeed in this profession.

The LECS program provided multiple workshops to help me understand what it would be like to have a career in law enforcement. Because of the help from the program that the Division of Criminal Justice had to offer, I am a full-time employee with the Sacramento Police department working as Community Service Officer and will attend the police academy next year.

Miguel Cordero, Office of Victims and Survivor Rights and Services

I am a senior at Sacramento State in my last semester as a Criminal Justice major. I think that the thing I will remember most about the program is all of the connections and guest speakers who the faculty connects the students with. Almost every class I had, had a guest speaker present to us opportunities in law enforcement and the criminal justice field.

My favorite speakers were two K-9 handlers, one from a sheriff’s office and one from the ATF who demonstrated the techniques and training that goes into their respective K-9 programs. The way these two individuals and their K9 partners searched for contraband was truly amazing to see.

It was these speakers and opportunities that helped me understand and prepare for how to apply to jobs and what employers are looking for. I believe that those skills, and the knowledge that I received about the criminal justice system at large, helped me get the position I have now with Office of Victim and Survivor Rights and Services (OVSRS).

It also enables me to help victims understand the court system and the criminal justice system when they call in to ask for assistance.

Here are factoids about the Sacramento State Criminal Justice Program courtesy of Laurie Kubicek, J.D. professor and pre-law advisor at Sac State.

  • Program is second-largest criminal justice program in the United States,
  • Currently over 1,800 students are enrolled, producing more than 400 graduates a year with nearly 16,000 alumni to date.
  • Curriculum includes multiple opportunities for internships at over 30 justice agencies, including the Justice Epstein Judicial Internship program
  • The program hosts a state-of-the-art crime scene lab.
  • Program offers Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in the traditional on-site format.
  • A Bachelor of Science degree is available in an online format through the College of Continuing Education.

Also,

The Criminal Justice will hold its 50th anniversary dinner 6-10 p.m. on April 13.

Keynote speaker will be Judge Consuelo Callahan, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The event is hosted by Beth Ruyak of Insight with Beth Ruyak, Capital Public Radio Program

The event includes a plated dinner, a live jazz band, a silent auction and distinguished alumni awards.

Tickets are $85 for students and $100 for everyone else. Tickets are available at www.csus.edu/hhs/cj

Reserved parking is available in Lot 8.