By Percy D. Luján.
Four experts spoke about the stigma the formerly incarcerated face upon returning to their communities on a panel in the Faculty Dining Room on Tuesday.
The panel featured state senator for the Bronx Gustavo Rivera, Vice President of Fortune Society Glenn E. Martin, philosophy professor at John Jay Myisha Cherry, and Ronald Day, a doctoral student at John Jay.
The event began with a showing of the short documentary “The Long Shadow of the Incarceration Stigma,” of which Day is one of the protagonists.
“I’ve come to understand that the stigma of incarceration is like a butterfly blade,” said Cherry. “It affects both the person being judged and the person doing the judging.”
Day described his experience of trying to enter college after being incarcerated for 15 years. He was asked to provide all his criminal records in order for him to be able to attend school. “It is kind of insulting that someone who wants to go to college to do better has to go through this process,” Day said.
He also encouraged students to take a look at Lehman’s policies regarding the enrollment of the formerly incarcerated.
When asked what would he do as a “mayor” to protect the rights of the formerly incarcerated, Rivera said that there needs to be more resources provided to the people while they are inside the prison such as educational opportunities. He said that at state level, there are legislators proposing legislation to curtail the resources to the incarcerated.
Martin then said that incarceration has become so wide spread that even whites are becoming affected by it, and that makes him optimistic. “Now that there are more white people being caught up in this system, we can begin to see more change,” he said.
The panel was sponsored by the Student Government Association and moderated by Sheila Rule, co-founder and executive director of Think Outside the Cell Foundation.