Circles of Support and Harlem
60% of those incarcerated or on parole had at least one child, with 11.3% have more than 4 children.
The Circle of Support program supports formerly incarcerated people aged 16 and over who are returning home to Harlem from New York State correctional facilities. The families often bear the enormous financial and social impact a prison sentence has on an entire household—particularly on children.
Central to our program is partnership. We work with faith communities and families formally and informally, both before and after release. By involving family members and faith-based volunteers the program fosters informal social networks to support successful re-entry, a more effective means of changing behavior than the formal controls used by law enforcement.
Research has indicated that “informal social controls” occurring in an individual’s “natural community” (i.e. family, friends, congregation) are more effective in creating behavior change than formal controls (i.e. law enforcement). We have seen this from our lived experience, and from the stories our participants share.
In Harlem 22% of parolees are re-incarcerated within a year of release, 40% within three years.
Over 2,500 people returning from incarceration return to Harlem. The blocks between 126th Street and 119th Street are known as a "Re-Entry Corridor", where 1 in 20 men have been incarcerated. Despite these statistics, Harlem is resilient.
Harlem has strong grassroots, community groups who want to be part of the solution to the urgent, endemic problem of recidivism. Harlem is a community of faith with over 400 houses of worship, who all offer spiritual and emotional support to those coming home. We believe in Harlem, and believe in the strength of its