Leon Faruq spent his childhood in and out of juvenile detention centers. By the time he was 23, he was incarcerated at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup after being found guilty of first-degree murder — a crime he did not commit — and sentenced to life in prison. Twenty-seven years later he was released with a keen interest in the plight of ex-offenders and a desire to help them adjust to life outside of prison. In 2001 he founded Respect Outreach Center, a nonprofit that works with at-risk youth and ex-inmates, which eventually became Living Classrooms’ Safe Streets program.
In 2003, Faruq received a fellowship to partner with community-based service providers to assist ex-prisoners to navigate successful re-entry to the community as well as to encourage the providers to employ cognitive development approaches to offset the effects of incarceration and negative lifestyles. On June 24, 2009, Faruq died due to complications from kidney disease. Read his Baltimore Sun profile here. Listen to Faruq talk about his fellowship here.