As part of our Turning Point Series, Princeton AlumniCorps invites you to:
“From Princeton to Prison to Purpose: The Story of Walter Fortson, Jim Farrin ’58, Natasha Japanwala ’14 and the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program.”
Thursday, April 26, 7 pm – 8:30 pm
Princeton AlumniCorps, 12 Stockton Street, Princeton, NJ
While serving time for drug offenses at Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility in Annandale, NJ, Walter Fortson focused on personal reflection and self-improvement. After his release from detention, Fortson was admitted to Rutgers University, where he is currently an honors student and recipient of the Rutgers 2010 Academic Excellence Award. Walter was also recently named a Truman Scholarship recipient. Fortson’s goal is to research and understand nutrition and obesity in the prison population, the risk factors involved and steps needed to adapting healthier lifestyles behind bars.
Meanwhile, in the fall of 2007, Jim Farrin ‘58 received a call from a Princeton classmate, Charlie Puttkammer; Charlie had some money that he wanted to give through the Rockefeller foundation to start a program at Princeton which would take Princeton students to a prison. Jim, skeptical at first, explained that he would try to help, but that he was “too busy”. A few hours later, Jim’s wife attended a reunion where she met a man from the Wagner Correctional Facility who was desperately looking for volunteers. Jim became convinced that this coincidence was “much bigger than him, it was divine providence at work.” This was an amazing opportunity for him to apply his life motto: give back. Thus began the Petey Greene Prisoner Assistance Program, which recruits and trains Princeton students and towns people to be effective tutors and teachers in nearby prisons to improve inmate abilities in reading, writing and math. The program also seeks to raise awareness on the need for criminal justice and prison reform.
Walter Fortson and Jim Farrin are working together to expand Petey Greene to other universities like Rutgers and are actively recruiting volunteers. In the first of its Turning Point series, Princeton AlumniCorps welcomes both Walter and Jim to speak to our guests about their experiences.
Natasha Japanwala ‘14 is a Petey Greene volunteer and led a Princeton Breakout trip focused on female incarceration in Oklahoma. She will share how these experiences have deepened her perspective and contributed to her own career trajectory. Natasha is a writer, currently studying English at Princeton University.