Historic Harlem Court House

The Harlem Community Justice Center's Reentry Services are located in East Harlem

2013 Reentry Graduation starts with a song

The choir started off the celebration this year at the Reentry Court Graduation

Family Reentry Summer Celebration

During the summer, we host a block party and celebration for Reentry clients and their families

Reentry Graduation

Young man thanks his Parole Officer for keeping him on track

Harlem Reentry Graduation

Families join to celebrate the accomplishments of graduates

Apr 27, 2016

VIDEO RELEASE -Rethinking Reentry: How One Reentry Partnership is Changing Lives in Harlem

The Harlem Community Justice Center's Harlem Parole Reentry Court works in partnership with faith partners the Interfaith Center of New York and the Church of the Heavenly Rest, and the Harvard Kennedy School to support the men and women returning from prison to Harlem.This effort is supported by the J. C Flowers Foundation under its  Circles of Support partnership.

This week in honor national of #reentyweek we are releasing a video about our partnership. It is a good example of how local collaborations that engage faith partners, the formerly incarcerated and their families can make a difference. Enjoy the short video and please share it with others!

Click here to see the video or cut and past the link below:


National Reentry Week

National Reentry Week, April 24-30, 2016

Attorney General Loretta Lynch has declared this week (April 24-30, 2016)  National Reentry Week.  Reentry Week is more than a time to reflect on the 6,851,000 men and women who are in jail or prison or on probation and parole. It is a time to for action!

All across the country local communicates are organizing events to support men and women are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated. For example, our sister project the Brownsville Community in partnership with the Brooklyn Defender Services is hosting a Re-Entry Town Hall this Thursday April 28th at the  Justice Center -- 444 Thomas S. Boyland Street, Brooklyn, NY from 12 to 4pm.

To follow Reentry Week happenings on twitter use the hashtag: #reentryweek

Jul 31, 2015

Mock Interview Night!

On the evening of July 22, 2015, a group of 20 or so volunteers sat at small tables in a classroom of the Dempsey Center, in Harlem. These volunteers-- members of the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, located at 5th Avenue and 90th Street, and The Brick Presbyterian Church at 62 East 92nd Street-- were doctors and students and corporate headhunters and even professional opera singers. Across from these volunteers sat men and women, ranging in age from 16 to 70, had been recently released from prison.  

This was Mock Interview Night, a project of the Circles of Support produced in partnership with the Harlem Community Justice Center, Interfaith Center of New York, Network in the Community, and the J.C. Flowers Foundation. Designed to help participants hone their interviewing skills and increase their confidence as they navigate the job market, Mock Interview Night pairs formerly-incarcerated individuals with professionals in their communities. As the Community Engagement Specialist for the Harlem Community Justice Center, an organization that provides reentry programs and support for recently paroled men and women, I was awed and inspired by the depth of human engagement that fraternity that emerged from the evening.

After several rounds of interviews we all sat in a circle, sharing compliments and constructive feedback. It was clear that everyone felt that it was an incredible, and incredibly successful, evening. This was especially true for the two brothers who were in attendance; the younger brother had just returned home after 4 years in prison and his older brother was there to support him through the reentry process, not to mention to brush up on his own interviewing skills. They seemed overjoyed to be together, smiling and laughing often.

The Harlem Community Justice Center, a community court located in East Harlem, works to strengthen its neighbors and community by providing resources and opportunities to the families of those returning home from prison. Strong families support, and are in turn supported by, strong communities.

As we streamed out into the warm summer evening, exchanging our final “goodnights” and “goodbyes,” no one could doubt that the participants of Mock Interview night would succeed. And their success was emblematic of even greater things to come. 

By Thomas Edwards, Community Engagement Specialist and Nicolas Maiarelli, Circles of Support Intern 

Feb 8, 2015

"Who Would Have Known?": Unexpected Gifts from The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest

The Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest, located on E. 90th Street and 5th Avenue, took a leap of faith last month and hosted a panel discussion with its congregants about incarceration and reentry. The following week, they worked hand-in-hand creating over 80 care packages for people coming home from prison in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s memory.  The care packages would be offered to clients who participate in prison reentry programs at the Harlem Community Justice Center, a community court in East Harlem that works with its neighbors to solve local challenges and Network in the Community, a therapeutic reentry and community reintegration program that works with formerly incarcerated individuals.

Reentry client receiving a "Welcome Home" care package 
The gifts were received this week, with heartfelt appreciation, at the Harlem Community Justice Center. There was a mixture of excitement and skepticism as I passed out Heavenly Rest's care packages while our clients  waited to see their parole officers. The packages contained a scarf, hat, gloves, socks and a gift card to a local grocery store. 

As I sat with each client, explaining who the package was from and what inspired this project, they struggled to comprehend that a group of strangers cared about them...that someone they didn't know cared if they were warm this winter.  One of the young men that received a bag immediately put on the hat and said to his friend, “We should take a selfie and put this on Instagram, we just got a present AT PAROLE!!! No one is gonna believe this.” Ironically, his friend had previously declined the bag. After seeing his peer’s excitement and the bag's contents,  he bashfully asked me if he could still have one. Others were showing each other the gloves and proclaiming their excitement for the snow this weekend because they were well-equipped for it.

This was a transformative moment for many of our clients, who frequently experience rejection and isolation from positive social institutions and people, but like all of us, seek belonging and acceptance. In the words of one of our participants, “Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Who would have known?”

Thank you to the Church of Heavenly Rest for your care and inclusion, showing those returning from prison that we need them in our community and want them to stay home. 

Written By Amanda Levering, Strategic Coordinator of  Sharing the Journey Home: Harlem (formerly know as the Reentry Family and Faith Circles of Support). Lovingly Funded by the  J.C. Flowers Foundation,  Sharing the Journey Home is a local Harlem reentry partnership that includes The Harlem Community Justice Center, The Interfaith Center of New York, and Network in the Community. Sharing the Journey Home cultivates leadership among the formerly incarcerated, their families, and faith leaders to strengthen our communities.

Nov 26, 2014

Leading By Example: Raising My Voice Speaker's Bureau presents to Justice Involved Young Adults

On October 20th, 2014, three graduates of Raising My Voice, a leadership and public speaking training for formerly incarcerated men and women, shared their story with the Harlem Justice Corps, a community service, employment, and education program for 18-24 year old men and women with histories of justice involvement.  The packed room consisted of 21 corps members, staff and interns. When the speakers entered the room, the anticipation of the youth was felt and verbalized with statements like, “stop introducing them, and let them talk to us!”
With humility and grace, three graduates shared their life stories of childhood, gang involvement, robberies, homicide, incarceration and reentry. All three of these speakers were under the age of twenty when they committed their crimes. The speakers focused on the effects that their crimes had on the victims, their families and their lives.  When one speaker shared, “I made the choice of being in the street to get away from a bad home situation,” the silence in the room was deafening.  
Another speaker shared that his loyalty to a gang cost him nineteen birthdays in prison and in the end that gang showed him not one shred of loyalty back. The third speaker spoke about poor decision making and the unintended consequences of shattering his family. One speaker shared that he created a new life narrative during his incarceration by raising money to support an injured woman.
All of our speakers talked about the role of education and how it transformed their world view and self-perception. Each speaker described the relationship between being uneducated, lacking employment and life skills and their attraction to “street life”.
In a pivotal moment of the presentation one speaker remarked: “I knew I needed to change, but didn’t know how. I thought and thought about what I could do, and it hit me- I need to stop doing crime. Just that one thing began to change my life.”
At the end of the presentations, we opened the floor for questions. The first corps member to ask a question, a participant of the Reentry Family and Faith Circles of Support Program at Harlem Reentry, asked the panel, “How do you feel now that the holidays are coming?”
“The holidays didn’t mean much to me while in prison for all of those years- it was just another day. Now that I am home, I am going to have to get used to customs and spending time with my family. Prison teaches you to be isolated and alone, to be safe” responded one of the speakers.
Another question asked by a corps member was, “How much money did you get from these robberies?”  The speakers answered incisively: a very high price was paid, nothing was gained.
The messages of these three speakers weren’t just heard today; they were received. This was even clear after the presentation, when the Justice Corps members approached the speakers to shake their hands and thank them for coming. Maybe for the first time in their lives, they weren’t being lectured by someone in power – they were receiving a message from credible and skilled messengers. Maybe the next time HJC hosts speakers from this training, it will be former HJC members finding and raising their own voices.

 Written by Linda Steele, Raising My Voice Trainer and Workforce Development Specialist at the Harlem Community Justice Center