Parole Reentry Court


The Harlem Community Justice Center, in cooperation with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services and the Division of Parole, helps parolees returning to the Harlem community make the transition from life in prison to responsible citizenship. The Justice Center links parolees to a wide range of social services, including drug treatment, transitional employment and vocational services, health care and mental health treatment. Where appropriate, these services are also offered to family members as well to help increase stability in the home. To promote increased accountability, participants are required to return to the Justice Center frequently to meet with case managers and parole officers and appear before an administrative law judge, who closely monitors their compliance with court orders. The goal is to prevent parolees from re-offending by helping them find jobs and assume familial and personal responsibility. The Reentry Court has developed a leadership training program that teaches presentation skills to formerly incarcerated persons. Graduates have spoken at events across the tri-state area.   To read the latest research about the Harlem Reentry Court, click here.

How It Works

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. speaks at a graduation of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court.Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. speaks at a graduation of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court.The Harlem Community Justice Center's work with parolees is based on the following principles:

Comprehensive Information: Potential participants undergo a pre-release assessment in prison to determine their suitability for the program. Parole staff in correctional facilities work closely with Justice Center staff to develop detailed profiles of participating inmates that include information about medical status (including mental health), addiction, criminal involvement, living arrangements, vocational skills and family composition. Based on this information, a customized treatment and supervision plan is prepared for each participant.

Accountability: After their release, parolees appear frequently at the Justice Center to report on their compliance with the treatment and supervision plans. To promote compliance, the Justice Center uses graduated sanctions and rewards. Sanctions for misbehavior, missed appointments and "dirty" urine samples may include curfews, increased court appearances and, in the most serious cases, return to prison. Rewards, which provide positive reinforcement for positive behavior, include reduced court reporting and relaxation of travel restrictions

Coordinated Services: The Justice Center emphasizes early identification of parolees' needs and speedy links to programs that deal with concerns that may affect successful community reintegration. To improve service delivery, Justice Center staff, parole officers and service providers convene regular case conferences. When appropriate, parole officers and reentry court staff will meet with the family members of parolees to encourage their assistance and support. The Justice Center has access to both on-site and community-based vocational and treatment services.

Aftercare: After fulfilling the requirements of their treatment plan, participants' cases will continue to be monitored by the Justice Center to ensure compliance with parole conditions. Where parolees have committed infractions, their cases will be returned to the Justice Center for further action.


According to Coming Home to Harlem, the Harlem Parole Reentry Court has reduced re-offending and improved employment outcomes for parolees returning home from prison. Findings include:

  • Recidivism: Participants were 60 percent less likely to be reconvicted for felonies within 18 months of release than traditional parolees. They also demonstrated a 45 percent reduction in parole revocations.

  • Employment: 75 percent of participants found long-term employment or enrolled in school after release, compared to 45 percent of regular parolees.

  • Substance Abuse: Participants reported significantly lower substance use than regular parolees.

  • Procedural Justice: Participants’ perceptions of the criminal justice system were substantially more positive than those of comparison parolees.

Featured Research


Coming Home to Harlem: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court

Coming Home to Harlem: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court

By Lama Hassoun Ayoub and Tia Pooler

This study of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court compares participants in a neighborhood-based reentry program to similar parolees on traditional parole. Results indicate that the reentry court, which implemented a validated and reliable tool for assessing the risks and needs of individuals returning from prison, produced a 22% reduction in the reconviction rate and a 60% reduction in the felony reconviction rate over an 18-month follow-up period. The reentry court also produced a 45% reduction in revocations. Interview findings indicate that reentry court parolees were significantly more likely to be in school or employed and to have positive perceptions of their parole officer.

Read a summary of the report

Listen to an interview with one of the report's authors


Importing Innovation: the Challenges and Rewards of Transplanting a Program from One Nation to Another

Importing Innovation: the Challenges and Rewards of Transplanting a Program from One Nation to Another

Simon Fulford, chief executive of Khulisa U.K., explains how and why his not-for-profit brought a successful South African prisoner reentry program to the United Kingdom.


Studying Reentry: A Conversation about Research and Reentry Courts

Studying Reentry: A Conversation about Research and Reentry Courts

Christine H. Lindquist, a senior research sociologist at RTI International, talks about reentry courts, recidivism, and what she's learned so far from a multi-year study funded by the US Department of Justice. April 2013

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