The mission of the Crime Victims' Institute is to:

  • Conduct research to examine the impact of crime on victims of all ages in order to promote a better understanding of victimization
  • Improve services to victims
  • Assist victims of crime by giving them a voice
  • Inform victim-related policy making at the state and local levels.


The Crime Victims' Institute was created in 1995 by the Texas Legislature as specified in Chapter 412, Subchapters A, B, C, & D of the Government Code and other related citations. In May 2003, Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 1245, which directed moving the Institute from the Office of the Attorney General to Sam Houston State University. Sam Houston State University continues the legislative mission and directives set forth for the Institute. CVI has been conducting research and providing training on victimization-related issues. This work has established a number of relationships with relevant community, criminal justice, and victim service organizations throughout the state and region.


Mary Breaux

Dr. Mary Breaux is an Associate Professor of Practice in the Department of Victim Studies at Sam Houston State University. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in victimology. Her research has focused on child abuse and neglect, and elder maltreatment. Her scholarly work has been published in the Journal of Elder Abuse and Neglect. Prior to becoming a faculty member, she worked for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services for both child and adult protective services. While under the child protective services program she served as sexual abuse investigator, protective services institute trainer, and human resources specialist. She spent the last ten years of her tenure with the adult protective services program as a community relations specialist educating the community and organizations about adult protectives services and fostering community and agency partnerships.

Dr. Breaux assisted in pioneering the new Department of Victim Studies for the College of Criminal Justice and Criminology. She served on the planning committee for the new Criminal Justice Equity and Inclusion Minor offered in The College of Criminal Justice. She is an At-Large Board Member for the Texas Victim's Service Association (TVSA). She also serves as member of the Texas Elder Abuse and Mistreatment Institute (TEAM) and the UTHealth Consortium on Aging.

Graduate Research Assistants

Cristal N. Hernandez

Cristal N. Hernandez (she/her) is a third-year doctoral student in the Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Sam Houston State University. Her research broadly focuses on victimology and carceral studies. She is the 2019 recipient of the Division of Victimology Graduate Student Paper of the Year Award from the American Society of Criminology, and her recent work has appeared in Crime & Delinquency and Societies.

Affiliated Faculty

The following faculty in the College of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University share areas of research interest with CVI.

  • Andia Azimi - Victimization, Child/Adolescent Abuse, Outcomes of Victimization
  • Mary Breaux - victimology; family violence; elder mistreatment; child maltreatment; child emotional abuse and neglect; qualitative research methods
  • Shelly Clevenger - cybervictimizations, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, qualitative research
  • Janet Mullings - sexual assault; intimate partner violence; child abuse and neglect
  • Ryan Randa - bullying victimization; school victimization; fear of crime; crime prevention
  • Kathleen Ratajczak - victimology, gender-based violence, campus sexual assault, victimization policy, help seeking and healing

Advisory Board

© 2023 Crime Victims' Institute | Sam Houston State University | The Texas State University System