California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Gang member turned professor to speak at CLU

    Amelia George, an assistant professor of criminal justice and sociology at CLU, has invited Victor Rios, widely-published author and associate professor of sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara, Victor Rios to speak about his book “Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys” at the Lundring Events Center on March 19.

    The Center for Equality and Justice and other CLU departments have joined to sponsor the free event.

    George assigned Rios’ book in her research methods course for its usefulness in detailing observations and insightful theoretical analysis.

    “I chose the book “Punished”because I feel that it is important for our students to learn about how particular communities are differentially affected by the criminal justice system,” said George.

    She further explained that how Rios paints a vivid picture of how poor young men of color are often caught in a brutal cycle of punishment and incarceration.

    “Young people from disadvantaged communities are often at a greater risk for joining gangs because of the lack of educational and occupational opportunities,” said George. She believes Rios’ work “provides students with a valuable perspective on these issues as they consider future careers in law enforcement or social services.”

    Based on in-depth interviews with young men in Oakland, Calif., the book examines the difficulties they face with corrective policies in their schools, communities and a society that constantly polices and stigmatizes the urban youth.

    Rios, also an inner-city Oakland native, had experience himself as an at-risk juvenile and uses his own personal anecdotes to express how various systems can criminalize young people of particular ethnic backgrounds.

    He argues that by understanding the lives of the young men who are criminalized through the criminal justice system, solutions can be developed to support young men in their progress. This can eliminate societal punishment that has become stifling within our communities.

    Rios hit home for CLU alumni Douglass Keening, who remembers how gang culture and juvenile delinquency affected the areas where he lived.

    “Gangs have now evolved into organized structures,” said Keening.

    He thinks Rios’ presentation at CLU will bring to light these social issues that are occurring around our societies.

    “We, as a community, should show more concern in being aware of the urban areas affected by unjust racial inequalities,” said Keening. “I can’t be comfortable to the idea that it won’t happen to me just because it hasn’t happened.”

    George hopes Rios’ book will assist community members who would like to get involved with, or educate themselves on, juvenile delinquency, public policy, education, race and gender.

    “We are fortunate to have a scholar of his caliber on campus,” said George.


    Cydneye Radley
    Staff Writer
    Published March 13, 2013

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