By Sofia Garcia, Dec. 13, 2022

On Friday, Dec. 2, Cal Poly Pomona’s Project Rebound hosted a film screening of the documentary ‘They Call Us Monsters’ including a Q&A session following the screening with one of the subjects, Jarad Nava. 

The film followed three teenage boys’ journeys through the juvenile justice system and showed their day-to-day processes behind bars. 

For attendees, like criminology student Karina Jimenez, the screening sparked conversations regarding juveniles in the prison system, as well as the experiences and hardships they face while in jail. 

“I feel like it’s something we don’t really talk about a lot when it comes to juvenile crimes,” Jimenez said. “I’m really glad that Professor Barragan and people from Project Rebound showed us this film because we don’t really talk about it.” 

Project Rebound was founded in 1967 by John Irwin, who was formerly incarcerated, but while in prison worked towards earning a college degree. Following the completion of his sentence, he graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and began working with the CSU system to help formerly incarcerated people obtain bachelor’s and postgraduate degrees. 

Melissa Barragan, the executive director of Project Rebound at CPP, held the screening for students and other guests. 

For Barragan, Project Rebound was something that really hit home for her and when an opportunity arose in March 2021 to take over the program, she stepped in. 

“My father was formerly incarcerated and in and out of the system for a good portion of my childhood,” Barragan said. “Using education as a way to help those incarcerated is a personal issue for me.” 

Sofia Garcia | The Poly Post

They Call Us Monsters follows three teenagers, including Nava, through their journey in juvenile hall awaiting the end of their sentences. The documentary tells the three teenage boys stories and in the meantime shows a project they’re working on in prison — writing a full script for a movie. 

According to Barragan, it was important to share this story with the students and guests of the event because California is going through a massive restructuring of the juvenile justice system. 

“The governor, last year, officially signed off (on a bill) for the department of juvenile justice … for it to close by June of 2023,” Barragan said. “Part of it is lower numbers of juveniles being sent to longer term incarceration, but it is also reflective of the shift in California rethinking what juvenile justice looks like.” 

Barragan went on to say that she felt the screening helped portray the issue from the perspective of individuals who are closely impacted.  

For the viewers of the event, like guest Joe Perrino, it was an eyeopening experience to see firsthand what it is like for children who are placed in the prison system. 

“I really liked the film and the stories it told of the kids, and how they made it feel more personal,” Perrino said. “Even though they did do the crime it’s definitely interesting to see them just act like the kids they are, and it makes you feel like they deserve to be rehabilitated rather than punished for the rest of their lives.” 

Nava, the main subject of the film, was able to make it out of that prison system and expressed his thoughts in a discussion after the film. 

“I thought the best part was the Q&A,” Barragan said. “We had about 40 minutes of back and forth with Jarad and students asked very good questions, not just only about his personal experience and transformation, but also about processes within the criminal legal system.” 

Overall, Barragan felt the event was a success through raising awareness and giving students the space to reflect and think about the juvenile justice system. 

“Providing this platform for people that have gone through the criminal legal system, in order to share their experience, it’s very empowering,” Barragan said. 

Feature image courtesy of Sofia Garcia

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

‘Trolls’ delivers colorful humor for all to enjoy

In an explosion of colors, fluffy hair and song and dance, the movie “Trolls” ...

Theatre production gives Shakespeare new life

By Angela Stevens In the “Taming of the Shrew,” a young woman named Kate ...

ISA marks traditional Hindu festival of lights

By Agnes Musee In celebration of Diwali, the Indian Student Association collaborated with the ...