Losing Your Language in Prison

4 min
A guard tower at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

David Le was sentenced to 40 years to life for second degree murder. Being locked up is one kind of punishment, but he's also experiencing another: forgetting how to speak the language he learned as a child. Imagine if you forgot the language that gave you an identity. How would that impact your sense of self? 

David Le is forgetting how to speak the language he learned as a child. He is sentenced to 40 years to life for second degree murder. (Marissa Ortega-Welch)

Producer Anouthinh "Choy" Pangthong interviewed David Le as part of San Quentin Radio, a project of KALW that supports inmates telling stories from inside prison. Panthong is a former prisoner who worked with San Quentin Radio while he was still incarcerated. San Quentin officials listened to and approved the audio for this story.

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