ANC Commissioner Joel Castón Released from Prison
Joel Castón made his way through a crowd of people on Monday evening and one by one embraced family members and friends who had long been waiting for this moment. After 27 years of incarceration, Castón was free.
Castón is best known for his impact as a mentor, a teacher, and — following a historic election — a local public official. Now, he has a chance to continue that work back in the D.C. community for the first time since he was 18 years old.
“It hasn’t been 27 years of waiting to go home, it’s been 27 years preparing myself to never come back to prison again,” Castón said shortly after his release.
While incarcerated, Castón learned several languages, practiced yoga, developed a personal finance curriculum called Currency Catchers, helped establish the Young Men Emerging mentorship program at the D.C. Jail, and took Georgetown classes through the Prison Scholars Program.
In June, he made history when he was elected to the local Advisory Neighborhood Commission in Ward 7. At the start of his two-year term, Castón tackled his commissioner responsibilities from the jail, attending meetings, hearing from constituents, and addressing concerns from the community over Zoom. He represents not just residents at the jail but also those living at the nearby Harriet Tubman Women’s Shelter and the Park Kennedy apartment complex.
While at the D.C. Jail, Castón took several credit and non-credit courses through Georgetown’s Prison Scholars Program, and now has a team of Georgetown students and alumni he met through the program supporting his ANC work.
“I’m overjoyed to welcome Joel home,” said Marc Howard, director of the Georgetown Prisons and Justice Initiative. “This is just the beginning for him, and I look forward to many years of work, inspiration, and friendship together.”