Pitzer College alumna Susan Sobel ’12 wants to expand the conversation about the American justice system and is using her role as a new contributor to The Huffington Post to do just that.
Her first piece for the Post, “What Prison, Poetry, and a Redhead Have in Common,” outlines how she became an advocate for incarcerated youth. The self-described “red-headed, yerba-mate drinking feminist” has been an activist from the very beginning. In grade school, she dressed up as Susan B. Anthony. As a teenager, she facilitated creative writing workshops in homeless shelters in Seattle. At Pitzer, she worked with the College’s Community Engagement Center throughout her undergraduate career and led poetry workshops with imprisoned youth at the juvenile probation Camp Afflerbaugh-Paige.
“I learned a horrendous truth that is shaping the course of my life’s work: we are the only nation on Earth that continues to sentence children to die in prison,” she said.
In The Huffington Post, Sobel unveiled a new video, “Closer to the Cuts,” based on a spoken word poem she wrote and performed with formerly incarcerated youth. The video is part of Sobel’s multifaceted, ongoing efforts to create a platform for those who have been imprisoned and to challenge the justice system that separate youth from families in the US, Sobel said.
“We need to reimagine prisons,” she said. “We need to create therapeutic models; we need to look at violence as a public health issue.”
Susan Sobel graduated from Pitzer with a BA in critical community studies, a self-designed major focusing on urban poverty. Now a second-year law student at Seattle University, Sobel plans to become a public defender before devoting her career to prison policy reform.