Upcoming Event: SFC Post-Prison Students On Reentry Challenges & College After Prison
[April 23rd, 2019 | 11:10AM | Room 4202 | St. Francis College | 180 Remsen Street, Brooklyn, NY]
Free & Open To The Public // Receptions To Follow
The Post-Prison Program at SFC launched in 2014. Students, faculty and staff have found the initiative to be rewarding for the entire SFC community. Inspired by Hudson Link and other nonprofits that privately fund college programs in prisons, our program closely mentors this population as they finish their degrees during the re-entry process. In May 2018, our first cohort of 3 students graduated and we now have 11 enrolled students. This panel features current students discussing the importance of collage after incarceration, as well as re-entry challenges, the realities of mass incarceration policies, and experiences of solitary confinement. The students will shed light on other less tangible benefits of the SFC Program, including the structure provided by the program, safety, support, a heightened sense of belonging, improved-self esteem, and skills necessary for academic & professional success.
Former Prisoners Share Spoken Word Performances - November 1st, 2017
The event is co-sponsored by NYU Law School Prisoner's Rights and Education Project, the St. Francis College Post-Prison Program & the Institute for Peace & Justice.
Johnny Perez is a Criminal Justice major at St. Francis. He is a tireless advocate for those facing the challenges of re-entry after prison. He now works for the National Religious Campaign Against Torture as their Director of U.S. Prisons Program where advocates against the use of solitary confinement. He previously worked full-time at the Urban Justice Center as a re-entry advocate since 2014 while attending St. Francis College full-time. Last year, he was appointed to the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. He has worked to change the status quo of unjust policies and practices as a member of the the Jails Action Coalition and the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement (CAIC), as well as on the NY Bar Association's Correction and Reentry Committee.
A prison cell can dull even the most spirited minds, but for some, creativity is a way to get beyond the prison walls.
On November 1, 2017, St. Francis College student and member of the College's Post-Prison Program, Johnny Perez '18 showed home words led to positive action by hosting Diary of My State Pen, a night of poetry and performances by formerly incarcerated writers.
"Living in prison is like living in darkness, but creative expression is the illuminating light which often eliminated that darkness, not only for me, but for all the writers who will share their journey with us," said Perez.
Other performers include St. Francis College student Lazaro Lugo '21, Paragraph Lyn Robinson, Sean Dalpiaz, and Natficial Fellowmen.
Post-Prison Students Talk About Importance of Education and Reform - May 1st, 2017
Previously incarcerated students from St. Francis College's Post-Prison Program followed a May 1, 2017 screening of Rikers: An American Jail with a frank discussion on their experiences behind bars, at Rikers and other institutions, and their time now on the cusp of earning an undergraduate degree. Nearly 100 guests, including a large group of St. Francis faculty and students, attended the screening and stayed on for the panel discussion.
Johnny Perez '18, who spent 13 years behind bars and expects to graduate with a degree in Criminal Justice in January, moderated the panel. Perez has become a leading advocate on ending the use of solitary confinement (read a recently published editorial in USA Today). He now works at the Urban Justice Center as a Safe Reentry Advocate. Earlier this year he was appointed to the New York State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Perez has testified at numerous hearings, including before City Council and at the United Nations.
Three other students took part in the discussion.
Arielle Pierre '18, a Sociology and Criminal Justice major, said that enrolling at St. Francis after prison probably stopped her from getting into trouble again and that it was inspiring to be doing course work. She takes it much more seriously than before she was arrested.
Felix Colon '18 is studying criminal justice. He spent three years in Rikers before being moved to upstate prisons. He recently received some good news, because of his exemplary behavior he was released from lifetime parole.
Gabriel Grande '20 a Business Management major, talked about being a 16 year old thrust into a world of adults and told to be a man to survive. Now that he is out, he realizes prison has changed him and he needs to overcome those challenges.
Joining the students on the panel were members of the NYU Law School Prisoners' Rights and Education Project (PREP) which co-sponsored the event with St. Francis College.
Victoria Wenger, a student at NYU Law said that law school classes fail to offer context on the effects of incarceration on families and society as a whole and that only by meeting the people affected can you understand the impact of criminal laws and the prison system.
Defense attorney at the Center for Appellate Litigation, Anokhi Shah, an NYU Law graduate and founder of PREP's partnership project added that help with re-entry into mainstream society is a forgotten part of the prison process, but it can be the most important piece because of the many constraints and stigmas that are attached to people who served time.
Both Shah and Wenger said that their involvement with the students in the St. Francis program taught them as much as many of their classes at NYU Law about the real effects of the criminal justice system.
The post-prison opportunity program is co-directed by members of the Sociology & Criminal Justice and History departments at St. Francis. Founder and co-director Dr. Emily Horowitz is thrilled that a new group of students with criminal histories will be starting at St. Francis this fall.
"These students need our help, and our faculty and community welcome them and provide support so they successfully re-enter society after prison," said Professor Horowitz. "At the same time, our faculty, students, and community learn so much from these students, and they help us much more than we help them. They allow us to see the human casualties of our system of mass incarceration."
Rikers premiered on Thirteen earlier this month.
The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition - March 12th, 2016
A panel discussion on solitary confinement, focusing on conditions in solitary confinement in New York State featured:
• Ricky James, host of "Unlocked" on 90.3 FM;
• Leigh-Anne Francis, professor of African/African-American/women and gender studies (College of New Jersey);
• Nate Williams, spoken word artist and musician;
• and Jennifer J. Parish, Director of Criminal Justice Advocacy, Mental Health Project Urban Justice Center
This event was co-organized by St. Francis College student Johnny Perez '17 of the Urban Justice Center and a student in the program, Post-Prison @ St. Francis College, and Issac Scott, of the Center for Justice at Columbia University and the Program Director of Confined Arts, Opportunities and Change.
The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition is co-sponsored by the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement, Center for Crime and Popular Culture at St. Francis, Post-Prison College @ St. Francis College, New York University Prisoners' Rights and Education Project, and the Women's Poetry Initiative at St. Francis.
On March 12 St. Francis College welcomed, currently (via phone) and formerly incarcerated prisoners for The Confined Arts: Solitary Confinement Edition, a showcase on how art and poetry can transcend prison walls while drawing the inhumanity of solitary confinement into sharp focus.
Artwork inspired by solitary confinement was on display while survivors offered spoken word performances and poetry about their time. One performer was Spoon Jackson who spoke from a California correctional facility where he is serving a life sentence.
Representatives from Opportunities and Change and the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement also spoke.
St. Francis/NYU Law School Holiday Party - 2015