Oct 19, 2011

The Reentry Court from Another "Think and Do Tank's" Perspective

Recently, we hosted the New Economics Foundation, a self described English think-and-do tank at the Harlem Community Justice Center.  Shortly after, Helen Kersley, one of our visitors, wrote a blog post  describing her impressions of our Parole Reentry Court on their site, http://www.neweconomics.org/  Here is a short snipet of their insights:

"As a visitor to the project, what was so striking was to see Judge Terry Saunders’ approach to the people coming before him. His engagement was warm, focused, and highly respectful. In the case of a young man appearing for the first time straight after his release, the judge welcomed him to the programme. He asked him about himself and his family so that, as the judge said, they would be on more intimate terms next time they met. Judge Saunders carefully explained the programme to him, saying that it couldn’t provide all the answers or solve all the difficulties he would be likely to face going forwards, but that the scheme was there to help him stay away from jail in the future. The judge acknowledged the challenges in breaking patterns of behaviour and established incentives. He highlighted the responsibility everyone has for their decisions and actions, and how hard that can be."

She also commented that ,"Ultimately, for a fuller understanding of the effects, and to unpick what are the key ingredients, it would be of huge interest to be able to compare the results of a re-entry scheme which does involve the court and judge in the way we saw in Harlem, with a matched scheme without such involvement."  Lucky for all of us, the Harlem Community Justice Center is in the process of doing just that. In fact, we are about half way through a research study that looks at outcomes of our parole participants versus those who are experiencing traditional parole.

To read more of Ms. Kersley's observations, click here.