On June 7, 2012, the Harlem Community Justice Center honored 38 men and women who graduated from the Harlem Community Justice Center's reentry programs, The Harlem Parole Reentry Court and the Upper Manhattan Reentry Task Force's Collaborative Case Management program. Both initiatives take a community and evidenced-based approached to parole supervision combining pre-release engagement and planning, coordination of community based services, and case management with judicial oversight.
The evening began with an inspiring hymn offered by Harlem's very own SWAGGER choir and continued with an eloquent keynote speech by Eugene Shneeberg, Director for the Center for Faith Based Neghborhoods and Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Justice. Mr. Shneeberg offered inspiration and hope to the graduates, as he told the "unlikely" story of his rise "from fatherlessness and poverty" to the the Bureau of Justice Assistance and spoke of his committment to the "national crisis" of incarceration.
As always, the most touching part of the evening came when the graduates stepped up to accept their certificate's of achievement and gifts from the court. We invited all of the graduates to speak, and many of them accepted. Some told us that this experience was unlike any other experience they had ever had in the criminal justice system, some told us that we gave them the push they needed and the encouragement they had never had, some thanked us, and some hugged us. Most didn't want to leave the program but all were proud of their accomplishents and vowed to continue "fighting the fight" as one participant remarked.