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Gang member-turned-professor to give talk

Author studies effect of crime policies on urban youth
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
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Victor Rios, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will discuss his experiences growing up on the streets of Oakland and present his research on juvenile justice, masculinity, race and crime.

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Feb. 27, 2013) A gang member-turned-college professor will speak at California Lutheran University on Tuesday, March 19.

Victor Rios, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, will discuss his experiences growing up on the streets of Oakland and present his research on juvenile justice, masculinity, race and crime at 7 p.m. in the Lundring Events Center.

Rios’ most recent book, “Punished: Policing the Lives of Black and Latino Boys,” is based on three years of field research and in-depth interviews with young men in Oakland. The 2011 book analyzes how juvenile crime policies and criminalization affect the everyday lives of urban youth. “Punished” is required reading in Molly George’s criminal justice research methods course at CLU.

Rios came to the United States with his mother when he was 2 and grew up in some of the worst projects of Oakland. He dropped out of school for the first time in eighth grade and joined a neighborhood gang for protection at 14, often living in stolen cars for months at a time. The turning point came at 15 when he saw a friend and fellow gang member murdered in a gunfight with rivals.

With help from a teacher who believed in him and a police officer who gave him a second chance, Rios graduated on time with his high school class. He went on to college and eventually earned a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

How Rios, now 35, was able to escape life on the streets and earn a doctorate is one of the narratives in “Punished.” Another is his account of the dissertation research that took him back to the neighborhoods where he grew up.

Rios, who runs a Santa Barbara program for at-risk adolescents, has received many honors including the 2010 New Scholar Award from the American Society of Criminology. “Punished” received the American Sociological Association’s 2012 Latino/a Sociology Section Best Book Award. Rios’ first book, “Street Life: Poverty, Gangs, and a Ph.D.,” was published five months before “Punished.”

Lundring Events Center is located in the Gilbert Sports and Fitness Center north of Olsen Road on the Thousand Oaks campus.

CLU’s Center for Equality and Justice, Multicultural Programs and International Student Services, Campus Diversity Initiative, ASCLU-G Student Government and departments of communication, criminal justice, languages and cultures, political science, psychology, religion, sociology, educational leadership, and counseling and guidance are sponsoring the free public event. For more information, contact the CEJ at cej@callutheran.edu or 805-493-3694 or Molly George at 805-493-3437.

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