Todd Juluke #2
Todd Juluke works at the News Orleans District Attorney Aversion Program

Todd Juluke is a New Orleans native who came from the “ideal family” with a twoparent home, three children, and a mother who didn’t “play that.” He and his brother attended St. Augustine High School, and his sister attended St. Mary’s. “We had the Catholic education all around,” Juluke told The Xavier Herald. Juluke was recruited to play basketball for Florida Memorial University at Miami, where he majored in chemistry. At the end of his senior year, Juluke— only a class or two away from graduating—quit basketball, dropped out of college and became a drug user and dealer back in New Orleans. “There’s a mythical marriage between athletes and drugs,” Juluke said. While his story could have ended tragically, Juluke turned his life around. Today, he is a self-described ex-thug, social activist, scholar and Buddhist. He will share his story on Nov. 4 when Xavier’s Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences hosts “A Xavier Evening of Reflection on Juvenile Justice” at the CANO Creative Space in the Myrtle Banks Building, 1307 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd. The free event is at 6 p.m. and includes the “Juvenile In Justice” photography exhibit. Students should RSVP by Nov. 2 with Dr. Pamela WaldronMoore at pnmoore@xula.edu or call the Xavier Division of Social and Behavioral Sciences at 504.520.7400

Drug dealer, street thug

Juluke said he recruited dealers and users in New Orleans. Uptown, downtown, on the west bank, everywhere. His trade made him popular in the projects. He also used drugs. Addiction doesn’t separate the dealer and the user, according to Juluke. He was so addicted, the once-respected athlete ended up homeless, untrustworthy, and doing things he declines to detail for drugs. “Black lives mattered then,” Juluke said. “But my own didn’t.” He spent a few years in and out of jail. In 2000, criminal district court judge Leon Cannizzaro sentenced Juluke to 10 years in prison. He was released in 2008. Juluke’s criminal past and his addiction made it tough for him to find a job. He contacted Cannizzaro, who had been elected Orleans Parish District Attorney. Cannizzaro saw that Juluke was trying to turn his life around, so the man who sentenced him to prison hired the ex-convict, who now works in the district attorney’s diversion program. Juluke said he attempts to steer repeat offenders on the right path—away from jail. He also works at Morning Call in New Orleans City Park on the weekends to pay his bills and to network. Juluke said increasing his network increases his networth.

From convict to scholar

A key component in his ongoing rehabilitation is education, according to Juluke. He earned a Bachelor of Science in addictive behavior and counseling from Southern University at New Orleans, where he’s now working on a Master of Social Work degree. As an MSW, Juluke wants to begin an aftercare program for people leaving incarceration, but because he is a convicted felon, he must first be granted clemency. Juluke applied for clemency, and in September, the Louisiana Board of Pardons and Parole voted unanimously in his favor and sent its recommendation to Gov. Bobby Jindal. The New Orleans Advocate reported there are some 600 clemency requests awaiting Jindal’s decision.

Wisdom through Buddhism

Juluke was sweeping floors at Harrah’s Casino when he met Mikhala Iversen, a jazz vocalist from Copenhagen, Denmark. After a relapse in 2012, Iversen encouraged him to enter an addiction recovery program. He’s been clean for the past three years, something he attributes to Iversen and the Buddhist practice she introduced him to. “When I turned to Buddhism, it felt like my life took off,” Juluke said. Juluke practices Nichiren Buddhism. He is a member of SokaGakkai International, which has 12 million practitioners in 92 countries. The goal of SokaGakkai is to “propagate Todd Juluke: “Black Lives Mattered, But Not Mine” by Kaelin Maloid Staff Writer peace and happiness for all people, and to recognize the value people have as human beings,” according to SGI. Every morning and evening, Juluke chants “Nam-myohorenge-kyo” to give his life a positive foundation. “I can’t tell people they need to change, I have to show them,” said Juluke.

 

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