BROOKLYN (PIX11) – Since 2014, St. Francis College in Brooklyn has opened their doors to unconventional students.
Criminal Justice Professor Emily Horowitz started the school’s Post-Prison Program.
“We work with anybody who has contact with the criminal justice system from an arrest to a short time in jail to 25 years in an upstate prison,” Horowitz explained.
Larry Williams is a model student, “I’m a philosophy major with a minor in entrepreneurship,” Williams told PIX11 News. Before he was a St. Francis student Williams says, “I did a 20-year prison sentence for drugs and guns.”
Professor Horowitz said the school was initially hesitant to roll out the initiative. “They said well we only want you to accept non-violent drug offenders, and I didn’t agree with that, and I was able to sneak in a first cohort, none of whom were non-violent drug offenders,” Horowitz recalls. “They all graduated, and they all made such an impression on faculty, administrators and students.”
The program provides financial aid and scholarships to cover the full cost of tuition and it is an opportunity to earn a St. Francis degree alongside all the other students.
Thanks to a new partnership, the Post-Prison Program is expanding to open the doors of St. Francis College to people who are willing to turn over a gun.
Rashid Littlejohn runs Guns for Grants, “the goal with the Brooklyn DAs office is to make sure we have a safe transfer of the firearm but then we follow up with the people.”
If the Brooklyn resident has a high school diploma or a GED, and they hand over a gun, St. Francies will give them an opportunity to attend the college at no cost. Jelani Wray and Rashid Littlejohn brought the idea to St. Francis.
Wray runs Jobs for Guns. “Sometimes a lot of kids… they say well the reason I have a gun is because I need to go out there, rob and steal – make money.”
While enrolled at St. Francis, the students will be given access to counseling and to mentors.
Horowitz says St. Francis is “a private affordable catholic institution and were guided by a Franciscan mission where we try to help those who might otherwise not be suited for college
Wray hopes “this program saves lives.”