Forum hosted about mass incarceration of minorities


Tamonda GriffithsEditor-in-Chief

Being among the few multicultural Greekletter organizations on the university’s campus, acting president of Hermandad de Sigma Iota Alpha sorority Dayana Lituma held a presentation on the topic of mass incarceration to present “real-life issues” to the campus community.

“Mass incarceration is definitely an issue that a lot of, not just Hispanic communities face,” said Lituma, “but a lot of minority communities, in general face.”

According to a 2018 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report cited in the presentation, nearly 2.2 million people were residing in America’s jails and prisons. The reasons cited in Lituma’s PowerPoint for this “widespread mass incarceration” were poverty and racial disparities, state policies that increase volumes of arrests, such as New York’s stop-andfrisk program, false or unreliable convictions, excessive punishment and recidivism.

“The amount of people being disenfranchised is staggering,” said teaching english to speakers of other languages major, Erica Goldson, a graduate
student, “and to me it’s the biggest injustice to, to remove the voices of these people to treat them, in the way they’re being treated, which I see as the new form of slavery.”

Goldson said to her, mass incarceration is, “the most important issue in our country right now.”

As someone studying bilingual multicultural education, Goldson said non-native English speakers or multilingual speakers often face widespread discrimination based on their accents and skin – color.

“Part of my job is to also be an advocate for those people,” said Goldson. According to an informational forum, Goldson had attended about the Miranda rights. She said the wording of rights is quite difficult to understand for most nonnative English speakers.

“It turns out when you actually do a linguistic analysis of the Miranda rights, it’s at an incredibly advanced level of English,” said Goldson. “Grammatically, lexically and also pronunciationwise.”

When non-native speakers find themselves in detainment, Goldson said they can be very susceptible to law enforcement interrogation tactics.

“The investigator might just say, ‘Oh yeah, yeah that’s possible [to get you a lawyer],’ and then move on and keep questioning them,” said Goldson. “They answer without knowing that they can be silent until a lawyer comes.”

Goldson said because some words may have different meanings depending on how they are used or because they are not necessarily encountered in everyday conversation, non-native speakers find their initial understanding of the warning was not what they had perceived it to be.

According to a 2010 U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics report cited in
the presentation, Latinos and African Americans account for 60 percent of the U.S. prison population. The presentation was held on Tuesday, Oct. 15 on the third floor of Adanti Student Center. Lituma said college students often have the mindset that they cannot affect change, but, “that’s not true.”

“In terms of offering potential ideas university students have the power to go out and be the leaders, really of these initiatives,” said Lituma. “These programming events that can really have a massive impact on issues such as mass incarceration.”

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