Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva will be hosting speaker James Schuler Monday evening.
In 1997, Schuler was sentenced to 10 to 20 years in state prison on drug charges of which he served 10 years before being paroled.
His talk is titled “Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System, Education, Prison and At Risk Children.”
Schuler said much of his presentation is about the need for a paradigm shift when it comes to incarceration.
"For me coming home, the expectation was I was going to go right back. So a lot of people didn’t really see me as making a change. And I didn’t help things much myself cause I had a really bad attitude about how I viewed life and opportunities."
He said he spent years in and out of jail and early on, it was tough for him to reintegrate to society because there were a lack of resources.
"The problem that we have, that I faced when I came home was the stereotypes. I wasn’t seen as a person coming home, I was viewed as still an inmate or an ex-con or a criminal. And all those things told me the same message that no one believed that I could do it."
Schuler also founded a group at the Wayne County jail that assists youth who are incarcerated with self-development.
He says he feels like he owes his community.
"I feel obligated because I went through these things that I know they are going through. And where I came from, is where they're headed."
Schuler says as a person of color he said he had it harder than when white inmates released.
His talk is at 7pm Monday October 23rd in the Vandervort Room of Scandling Campus Center at the Geneva college.