First World Cultures event focused on criminal justice

Formerly incarcerated students work toward success against the odds.


Vicky Pineda

Formerly incarcerated students share their stories at the first World Cultures event. Photo by Vicky Pineda

Vicky Pineda, Sports Editor

It’s not uncommon for Dr. Rob Rubalcaba, a City College math professor, to use a diagram to illustrate a challenging math concept.

But on Wednesday, the professor known to students as Dr. Rob shared the low probability that formerly incarcerated students will graduate from college.

“If you don’t like something you can change it,” Rubalcaba said. “You can be a future lawyer or you can be the one writing the law. If you want to change the system, then change it. The biggest thing that you can do is graduate.” 

The first World Cultures event kicked off with “Treated Like A Number, Not A Human” lead by Dr. Rob. 

The event covered the mathematics and statistics of the criminal justice system. It included different types of errors in jury trials, algorithms used in sentencing and plea bargains.

Formerly incarcerated students were also part of the panel and told their personal stories. 

Alonzo Harvey is a political science major and was part of the panel. Being formerly incarcerated he became inspired to become a lawyer. 

“The only way to get justice is to get involved,” said Harvey. “Is the system ever going to change? I doubt it but I’m here for the long haul.”  

Rubalcaba opened a discussion with the panel and other students that attended the event. One of the topics discussed was the infrared cameras that are being placed on streetlights to surveil the communities around San Diego.

Some participants expressed that they were opposed to the infrared cameras because they felt the cameras targeted black and brown communities.  

Formerly incarcerated students from the panel opened up about their transitions from being in prison to being part of society and expressed the feeling of being ‘treated like a number’. 

Karen Angel, a sociology major, felt touched by this event and related to members of the panel. 

“I’ve been to jail and I realize that they do kinda mark you as a number you are not really a person anymore when you are looking for a job,” she said. “I went almost six months unemployed because every job I applied to (does) a background check.”

Angel is very excited about upcoming World Cultures events at City College. 

Rubalcaba closed the event by leading the chant “I am a future college graduate!” 

The diagrams that were presented during this event can be viewed at