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Afrika Owes Released From Rikers Island in Time for School

By DNAinfo Staff on September 1, 2011 6:26pm

MANHATTAN SUPREME COURT — She's going from the big house to the school house.

Afrika Owes, the teen charged with carrying guns for a Harlem street gang, was released Thursday after serving a summer in jail as part of a plea deal.

Owes, 17, a former Deerfield Academy student who will now be attending a public Manhattan high school, was released as part of an agreement that would see her freed before the start of the academic year.

Owes' attorney, Elsie Chandler, said her client is looking to put the past and her summer at Rikers Island behind her and get back to pursuing an education. 

"She's someone for whom education and school is a lifeline and I think she's learned from this experience," Chandler said Thursday.

"She's going to continue to learn from this experience and I think it's a very good thing that she's able to go back to school."

Owes struck the deal to serve time over the summer in jail with Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Edward McLaughlin on June 28. If she stays out of trouble until the case is closed her file will be sealed and the jail time she's already served will satisfy the incarceration aspect of the deal. 

The teen, who faced up to 25 years in prison, was one of 14 alleged gang members charged with dealing guns and drugs on 137th Street in Harlem in February. 

Before turning herself in for the summer sentence, Owes was free on $25,000 bail that was posted by the Abyssinian Baptist Church, where she has been a member since childhood. 

Owes is due back in court in November for a status update.