On Thursday, December 8, the Harlem Community Justice Center celebrated the graduation of 26 clients from our Reentry Court program with hymns from St. Mary's Choir, eloquent words from Rev. Stephen Chinlund, an author and prison reform advocate, and a story of inspiration and hope from Mark C., a young man who, after 15 years in prison, just received a job offer from the Department of Education. The Reentry Court combines parole supervision with pre-release engagement and planning, coordination of community based services, case management and judicial oversight.
Despite the rousing words of all of ours speakers, no one would deny that the highlight of the night was watching our graduates proudly step up to the podium to receive certificates memorializing their many accomplishments since their release from prison 6 months ago. On the uniqueness of our program, one client remarked, "I'm used to judges giving out time, this one gives out hugs!" Among our graduates were a baker and union worker, an aspiring film maker, a University employee, Justice Corps members, grandfathers, fathers, sons, and important members of our community.
A special thanks to the Harlem Reentry Team, Nigel Jackson, Stephanie Leverett, Bill Long, Alison Dockery, Cramon Milline, and Anisah Thompson and our dedicated parole staff, Judge Saunders, SPO Delgado, PO Oliver, PO Levine, and PO Morro. Thank you to the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, the Division of Criminal Justice Services, our community partners, Palladia Inc., Center for Employment Opportunities, HELP, Exodus, and the Interfaith Center of New York, among others.