Panel of formerly incarcerated individuals speak at City College

Life experiences and the struggle with the stigma of being formerly incarcerated were issues discussed by panelist.


Uyen Pham

Panel of formerly incarcerated individuals spoke at City College. By Uyen Pham/City Times

Uyen Pham, Staff Writer

San Diego City College’s World Culture Program, in partnership with Urban Scholars Union, brought to campus a panel of formerly incarcerated individuals on Wednesday.

The We Are People Too event took place in MS-162 and was hosted by Wendy Wiehl, director of Alcohol and Other Drug Study program. Wiehl received her doctorate in clinical pharmacy and has taught at San Diego City College since in 2001 in the AODS program.

Other panelist included Joe Powell, who served 25 years in prison for a violent crime, Patrick Wallace, and Barbara Lasure, who served time for drug trafficking. The panel also included City College President Ricky Shabazz.

“We know that at City College, students come to us when they are facing many challenges,” Shabazz said. “We should let them know they are met with open hands, love, and hope with (a) great faculty and administration.”  

Help and the availability of resources, regardless of a person’s past, was a message that the panel wanted to communicate to the City College audience.

“We want to speak a little louder and say to the student from that background, don’t feel like you are being hurt or did not receive the services (that they can receive) to be an awesome student and an amazing citizen in our society,” Powell said.   

Wallace, who served two and half decades in prison for robbery, shared the hope that he found while attending City College. He felt embraced by the people at City.

Wallace also gave a shout-out to his wife who has supported him all the way in his journey of redemption.

Urban Scholars Union hopes to break the stigma associated with students who have previously been incarcerated.

“We know because we have been through and individuals from our population, some do need their hand held,” said Lasure, who had witnessed former prisoners suffer panic attack.

The event was a a great success and received positive reactions from the attendees.