‘They Call Us Monsters’ screening and discussion scheduled Feb. 13

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Planners hope to spark a conversation on the U.S criminal justice system.

Thomas Macias


The Mexican-American studies program will sponsor a screening of the 2016 documentary “They Call Us Monsters” at 6 p.m. Feb. 13.

This film was the winner of the 2016 Las Vegas Film Festival for Best Documentary as well as a finalist in other competitions.

A panel discussion after the 1½ hour screening will be led by Beatrix Perez, sociology coordinator; Oscar Ruiz, chair of public policy and service; and Dr. Lisa Ramos, coordinator of Mexican-American studies.

 “They Call Us Monsters” focuses on the experiences of three incarcerated juveniles in Los Angeles who learn the craft of screenwriting from the film’s producer, Gabe Cowan, according to the Public Broadcasting Service website at www.pbs.org.

The teen prisoners received this instruction as they awaited sentencing for commiting violent crimes.

 The film centers on government policy in sentencing minors as adults, particularly in situations in which offenders are raised in violent environments.

Another issue the documentary explores is whether such offenders should be afforded a chance at rehabilitation and opportunities to contribute to society.

Ramos said the screening and panel are meant to highlight difficulties men of color face in society.

She also hopes a greater awareness will result of structural forces that weigh upon minority groups.  

Given its demographic makeup, Ramos said it is likely a student at this college knows someone who has faced these types of challenges in schools, the workplace and the U.S. system of justice.

Ramos said audience members will be able to connect with the issues being explored.

Ruiz predicted that the documentary will be of interest to students of all majors.

Regardless of an attendee’s academic interests, the event will help keep a person abreast of current developments in criminal justice, he said.

Ruiz believes it is beneficial for a person to explore wider issues.    

Steven Maldonado, administrative specialist for Mexican-American studies, said the panel will look at individual themes in more detail.

The members will speak on underlying characteristics of minority incarceration, potential solutions and resources required to achieve positive impacts, he said.

Maldonado hopes the event will “spark a conversation” on the U.S. criminal justice system and ways inequities are more profoundly felt on minority communities. 

 “The first step toward long-term solutions is awareness,” Maldonado said. “Awareness moves emotion into action and finally action into change.”

The screening will be in Room 218 and nursing and allied health complex.

The event is open to the public.

For more information call 210-486-0763.


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