From Cellblock to Campus, One Black Man Defies the Data
By Stacey Patton
Walter Fortson never expected to finish college, especially as inmate 819161D at the Mountainview Youth Correctional Facility, in Hunterdon County, N.J. A few years ago, he chose to be a crack dealer to support his family and his reckless spending habits. He thought he was too smart to get caught, until one day in 2008 when he made a bad move.
He was a 25-year-old black male driving through an Atlantic City public-housing project in an expensive red Chevrolet Suburban with gleaming chrome hubcaps and out-of-state tags. Thinking he looked suspicious, police officers pulled him over and found crack cocaine, marijuana, and two handguns in the SUV. One officer pointed a gun at his head, he recalls, while the other handcuffed him and said, “You know that your life is over, huh?”
Mr. Fortson believed him. “To be a black male convicted felon, I thought my life was over,” he says.
Today, though, Mr. Fortson is an honor student in his senior year at Rutgers University at New Brunswick. [Continue reading at The Chronicle of Higher Education.]