On Saturday August 23, the Harlem Community Justice Center organized its annual Harlem Reentry Family Day Block Party. The day began with an army of green shirted volunteers that included Justice Center staff, participants in our prisoner reentry programs, faith based volunteers from the Family Reentry Circles of Support program, a partnership between the Justice Center, Interfaith Center of New York and Network Support Services, as well as some college fraternities and sororities and our funder the J.C. Flowers Foundation.
The Family Day event included performances by the Uptown Dance Academy, a martial arts demonstration by congregants from Masjidus Sabur, face painting and games for kids as well as food for all. Many of the participants were families who have had a loved one in prison. Yet, as one participant said, “this event is the beloved community where everyone is just a human being.” The pictures really tell the story.
The Justice Center’s reentry partnerships seek to reduce incarceration, the stigma of incarceration and improve public safety. This is achieved not just through the use of evidence-based interventions for men and women leaving prison, but also by activating the informal assets in communities like faith volunteers, families and the formerly incarcerated themselves. Events like the Block Party are one way this is done.
In communities like Harlem the justice system disproportionately intervenes in the lives of families of color. The result is that children of incarcerated parents are more likely to be poor, less likely to graduate from high school and more likely to serve time in prison later in life. By some estimates half of all persons in prison are the parents of a minor child under 21. When a community’s collective efficacy is strengthened it is better able to respond to problems like child well-being and crime without over-relying on government intervention.
Special thanks to our sponsors and partners who made Family Day a success!
Community Partners: Network Support Services, Elmendorf Reformed Church, Alternative to Violence Project, Exodus Transitional Community Services, Palladia, Inc., Samaritan Village, Inc., Create Inc., Odyssey House, Masjidus Sabur, Seventh Day Sanctified Church, St. Luke’s AME Church, Riverside Church Barber Training Program.
Corporate Sponsors: Direct Print, Inc., Duane Reade, Costco Wholesale Warehouse, Target, American outlet, Dunkin Donuts.
Funders: New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services, US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, J.C. Flowers Foundation, New York State Office of Court Administration.