Feb 5, 2009

Just Released! A Portrait of Reentry in Upper Manhattan

Since 2001, the Harlem Community Justice Center has worked with parolees returning to Harlem -- a neighborhood that has one of the highest concentrations of formerly incarcerated individuals in New York City. The concept behind our reentry court, which was created in partnership with the Division of Parole, is straightforward: to link parolees with the kind of community-based services (drug treatment, job training, counseling) and support (including regular monitoring) they need to succeed. Click here for a story on NY1 News highlighting the program as New Yorker of the Week.

The idea may be simple -- the execution is anything but. A recent analysis that followed graduates for 12 months following graduation documented a recidivism rate of 19 percent. (A rigorous impact evaluation of the program is currently in the works and should be completed later this year.)

One thing we've learned from our experience in Harlem is that the obstacles to successful reentry are multi-faceted and extraordinarily difficult for individuals to navigate on their own. Recognizing this, we've recently launched a collaborative effort designed to achieve change at the systemic, as opposed to the individual, level. Created with the help of the Mayor's Office, the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force is an effort to bring together relevant city and state agencies, along with community-based organizations and academic partners, to develop new solutions to the problems faced by parolees.

The first product of the Task Force is a study that paints a vivid portrait of reentry in Upper Manhattan. In the months ahead, the Task Force will move from analysis to action, following a strategic plan that calls for enhanced community partnerships, workforce development efforts, and a public education campaign designed to improve parolees' employment prospects.

You can check in here for updates on our progress -- and please feel free to share your comments, suggestions, and success stories with us!