Inmates from three different cultures came together July 31 at the Utah State Prison to share their roots through song, dance, spoken word and speeches.
The program was overseen by one of the Department’s Multicultural Transition teams, which work to help inmates discover or reconnect with the strength and healing that lies in their cultural heritage.
“We’re just trying to show people the need for inmates to connect back to their culture because it seems the farther we drift from our culture, the less grounded we are,” said inmate Rodney Liti.
The program featured inmates from the Oquirrh Facility. Over the past year, the Multicultural Transition Team has organized similar events in other facilities — including a Native American program at the Promontory Facility, a Native American and Polynesian program at the Wasatch Facility, and a Native American Powwow and African American celebration of Juneteenth at the Central Utah Correctional Facility.
Karen Liston, an Ethnic Minority Resource Officer, said a key aspect of the program is building awareness, acceptance and appreciation for cultural differences. The team also is working to connect multicultural offenders to community resources that may help them succeed once they’ve return to society.
The July 31 celebration also honored Native American Spiritual Leader Lenny Foster for his work at the prison, particularly his effort 26 years ago to re-introduce Sweat Lodges and Talking Circles. Foster led a Sweat after the multicultural program.
Videos of the celebration are available on the Department’s Facebook and YouTube pages.