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March 31, 2008

The Princeton Boys

In the playground of an elementary school in Newark, N.J. last summer, three college kids were executed. A number of those who are being tried for the murders are teenagers. The police say this kind of incident is not that uncommon for the tough suburbs of Newark, places like Irvington and Maplewood.

Dukens Falaise grew up in those tough neighborhoods. He came to the U.S. from Haiti when he was 6, and from the start, he gravitated towards street life. First he acted as the lookout when older kids sold drugs. Soon he was the one selling drugs.

Dukens' mother kicked him out of the house when he was 12 and he spent the rest of his adolescence in and out of juvenile detention. When he was 17, Dukens was placed in a workshop for young men coming out of the prison system.

Gregory Ellison, the workshop facilitator and a doctoral student at Princeton, remembers Dukens' group as the toughest he'd ever worked with. Dukens gave him a particularly hard time. But after a while, the two men became as close as brothers. Greg and Dukens talk to Dick Gordon about what they have learned from one another.

  • Find out more about the organization that helped Greg pursue his work in theology

Sad Song (Instrumental) by Jack Frost for the album Jack Frost Beats and Mixtape, Vol. 1; Slippin' by DMX for the album Flesh of MY Flesh, Blood of My Blood

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