Final Question Bridge discussion: "Black males and the legal system"


The final discussion surrounding “Question Bridge: Black Males” at the Rochester Contemporary Art Center focused on black men and the legal system.

The panelists were John Klofas, director of the Center for Public Safety Initiatives at RIT; former Rochester Mayor Bill Johnson; Van White, Rochester school board president; Mary Ann Wolfe, of the Rochester Area Child Abuse Network; and Simeon Banister, director of special programs at PathStone.

Klofas opened the panel with his perspective on the criminal justice system and how it contains racial animosity. But as more people are becoming aware of the systematic oppression, he said, they are working to change it.

An audience member asked about the effects of incarceration and was answered by the panel and by a previously incarcerated man. Wolfe said that “it is important to check on the mental health of those you may know in jail.”

The previously incarcerated man said that the effects are similar to a slave being released.

“You wonder if someone will ever deny you your freedom again,” he said.