Nine returning citizens are on track to get paid work as paralegals at local law firms after being trained at Georgetown, thanks to a partnership with DC’s Mayor’s Office on Returning Citizen Affairs’ (MORCA) Paralegal Fellowship Program.
The graduates were celebrated and congratulated Jan. 16 by DC Mayor Muriel Bowser, the president of the American Bar Association (ABA), Georgetown leaders including Vice President Joe Ferrara and School of Continuing Studies Dean Kelly Otter and others as new alumni of Georgetown’s custom paralegal certificate program at SCS.
The partnership is part of Georgetown’s longtime commitment to social and racial justice and community engagement.
MORCA is directed by Brian Ferguson (C’18), a Georgetown alumnus who once was wrongfully incarcerated for homicide and exonerated after serving 11 years of a life sentence.
“Georgetown’s commitment to returning citizens in the District is invaluable,” Ferguson said at the graduation event sponsored by the Mayor’s Office at the Wilson Building. “My true hope is that this will serve as a national model for creating successful stories and chances for careers, just like those enjoyed by the graduates sitting here today.”
One of the students, Kareem McCraney, was released after 21 years in prison. Because of the program, McCraney will now serve as a paralegal at a prestigious D.C.-based law firm.
“These educational opportunities empower us to be free and to stay free,” McCraney said.
SCS Dean Kelly Otter told the students at the event they had one more homework assignment. “Keep learning,” she said. “Seek moments, mentors and materials that will challenge you and enrich you. Make the life of the mind a crucial component of your life.”
The Mayor’s Office has noted that 1,800 to 2,000 prisoners are released in DC annually. Both DC and Georgetown have additional programs designed to help these citizens, including the Georgetown Pivot Program.
“Our hope is that this program is just the beginning – that it will not only create new opportunities, but prove what is possible and serve as a model for future programs for our talented and hard-working community of returning citizens,” Bowser said.