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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

ACLU lawyer Vanita Gupta visits campus to speak about criminal justice system

On Oct. 9, the Honors Program hosted a discussion with Vanita Gupta, an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney. Gupta is known for her work to end mass incarceration in the United States criminal justice system. The event, which was free and open to the public, was held at 3 p.m. in the Chancellor’s Conference Room, located in the Quinn Administration Building.
Gupta is a graduate of both Yale University and New York University School of Law. Immediately after law school, Gupta worked at the NAACP to help overturn the drug convictions of 38 residents of Tulia, Texas.
Gupta discussed the discrimination embedded in the justice system that brought these 38 people to conviction in the first place. She stated that she looked at the legal and criminal justice system through the lens of critical race theory. This perspective recognizes that racism is ingrained into the fabric of American society and must be taken into consideration when working with the law.

Gupta is now the Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU and the Director of the Center for Justice, which focuses on criminal justice reform.

Rajini Srikanth, Director of the Honors Program, said, “I knew that I wanted her to visit because she is such a well-known lawyer and had taken on a really difficult case at such a young age. She demonstrates what someone with a lot of faith and perseverance can do, and I wanted that inspiration to be on our campus and I wanted our students to meet her.”

Lucas Goren, a junior English major, said, “The event was fantastic. Vanita Gupta was incredibly knowledgeable across several fields of law. There was no question she couldn’t answer and draw from amazing places that brought a lot of context to the discussion.”
Gupta’s message was crystal clear. The statistics shown on mass incarceration rates, especially those related to drugs, were striking. While many are quick to be disenchanted with the U.S. criminal justice system, Gupta remains headstrong and demonstrates exactly the type of lawyer, as well as the kind of citizen, that this country needs.