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Shaka Senghor, a Leading Voice in Criminal Justice Reform, Visits Campus

by Shirley Petropoulos

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On Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 a leading voice in criminal justice reform, Shaka Senghor, came to Pitt-Greensburg to talk to students, faculty, staff, and the general public about his life and how he has worked to change since being released from prison.

Shaka Senghor started his talk about how and why he ended up in jail. His mother abused his older siblings and then she ended up abusing him later on in his life.

When he was seventeen he started to sell drugs and the summer before he shot and killed someone he was shot himself at the age of eighteen.

By the age of nineteen he had shot and killed a man because he had a fear of being shot again. He ended up being sent to jail for second degree murder and he was released 19 years later. He spent seven of those 19 years in solitary confinement.

Senghor talked about how he spent most of his beginning years in prison being angry and upset about the whole situation and he ended up getting into trouble that landed him into solitary confinement.

During his stay in solitary confinement, he realized there was no point in being angry and that one mistake should not decide who you are or what your life should be like.

Once he got over his anger he decided to write a book in about 30 days. Writing is what helped him to get over his anger. Senghor mentioned to the audience that once he was released from prison a guard told him “see you in 6 months.”

The rest of his talk was mainly all about how he worked to stay out of jail after being released and how he met with Oprah and President Obama.

When asked why the Criminal Justice club decided to bring Senghor to campus to talk Dr. Tim Holler, an assistant professor of Criminal Justice in the Behavioral Sciences Division, said “We were looking for someone that was mainly focused on criminal justice reform. We wanted someone that had the experience of being in the system to shed light on the subject of criminal justice reform.”

Dr. Holler also mentioned that the they are trying to bring Shaka Senghor back to campus for the fall semester.

“We wanted to bring someone that the students had not yet been exposed to before”said Dr. Holler.

Shaka Senghor kept the audience engaged in his talk and he even offered his best seller novel that could be purchased after his talk.

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