By Kimberly Weinberg / Bradford Today
Dr. Tony Gaskew, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, understands the concept of social justice from both a personal and academic perspective.
In his new book, “Rethinking Prison Reentry: Transforming Humiliation into Humility,” Gaskew uses his experiences as young black man in inner-city Chicago, a major crimes police detective, a federal prison volunteer and a scholar to examine the role higher education and the criminal justice system could play in expanding the definition of social justice.
Gaskew spent 10 years assigned as a member of the Department of Justice’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force, investigating and arresting thousands of violent criminal offenders. Throughout his professional career, there is very little that he has not seen or experienced.
This includes how the institutionalized oppressive nature of the criminal justice system and its by-product of mass incarceration have negatively impacted the lives of black males across the nation.
Born in one of Chicago’s most violent inner-city neighborhoods — commonly referred to as the “Wild One Hundreds” – Gaskew describes how his journey as a young black man growing up surrounded by poverty and crime shaped his collective outlook on life and the criminal justice system.
“My dad encouraged my brothers and me to explore careers in policing and to immerse ourselves in educational endeavors as early as the age of 5 and 6,” he said.