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Program Profile: Harlem (NY) Parole Reentry Court

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on April 27, 2020

Program Summary

This is a reentry program designed to assist parolees transition from life in prison to life in the community. The program is rated Promising. The treatment group had statistically significant reductions in rates of reconvictions and parole revocations, increases in numbers of months employed, and a greater likelihood of receiving a high school diploma or GED, compared with the control group. However, there were no statistically significant differences in rate of rearrests or substance use.

This program’s rating is based on evidence that includes at least one high-quality randomized controlled trial.

Program Description

Program Goals/Target Population
The Harlem Parole Reentry Court was established to assist parolees transition from life in prison to life in the community. The main goal is to build a support system for parolees as they leave prison and reduce their likelihood of recidivism. The target population for this program are parolees returning to Upper Manhattan, one of the poorest neighborhoods in New York City. Upper Manhattan covers East, Central, and West Harlem as well as Washington Heights and Inwood (Hassan Ayoub and Pooler 2015).

Program Activities
The Harlem Parole Reentry Court is a collaborative team effort involving many players, including an administrative law judge, case managers, parole officers, and social service providers. Parolees are engaged for 6 to 9 months on average, and the program has five core elements:
  • Prerelease engagement, assessment, and reentry planning: This takes place while participants are still in confinement. Case managers conduct intakes with individuals who are soon to be released from prison. The individuals receive a risk/needs assessment upon their release and first report to the reentry court. The goal of these assessments is to determine immediate problems or areas of concern and determine future service needs upon release. Reentry plans are developed by case managers, who consult with the parole officers and the parolees.
  • Active judicial oversight: Parolees participate in formal court appearances to build a relationship with the reentry court judge, who has an active role in monitoring the participant’s process. At the end of the first court appearance, a formal contract between the Reentry Court and the parolee is created and signed by the parolee, the parole officer, and the judge, which dictates specific goals and objectives for areas such as treatment, employment, and housing.
  • Coordination of support services: Linking parolees with social services is considered one of the highest priorities of the reentry court. Emphasis is placed on drug treatment and employment aid (such as job readiness training) because these are often the most needed services (Farole 2003). The Center for Employment Opportunities provides employment services for parolees, and substance abuse treatment providers who have existing contracts with the Division of Parole are used. There are also services provided for housing assistance, health care, and mental health treatment for parolees who need it, and these services can be offered to family members to increase stability in the homes.
  • Graduated and parsimonious sanctions: In lieu of parole revocations, the reentry court uses sanctions to punish parole violations. These sanctions were predetermined at the first court appearance, and can include increased appearances before the judge, delayed promotion through the program, increased drug treatment and testing, tighter curfews, and electronic monitoring.
  • Incentives for success: Parolees receive incentives for achieving goals such as obtaining employment or early discharge. These incentives can include judicial recognition, certificates of accomplishment, relaxation of restrictions, small tokens such as pens or journals, and public ceremonies to mark milestones. There is also a formal public graduation ceremony following the completion of the program. (Hassan Ayoub and Pooler 2015; Farole 2003).

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Rearrests
Hassoun Ayoub and Pooler (2015) found no statistically significant differences between the treatment group (that participated in the Harlem Parole Reentry Court) and the control group in the number of rearrests at the 18-month follow-up.

Reconvictions
Participants in the treatment group had fewer reconvictions compared with participants in the control group. Twenty-nine percent of the treatment group was reconvicted compared with 37 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Parole Revocations
Participants in the treatment group had fewer parole revocations compared with participants in the control group. Twelve percent of the treatment group had parole revocations compared with 22 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Months Employed
Participants in the treatment group spent a greater number of months employed compared with participants in the control group. Participants in the treatment group were employed for an average of 7.6 months and participants in the control group were employed for an average of 3.9 months. This difference was statistically significant.

High School Diploma/GED
A greater number of participants in the treatment group had received their high school diploma or GED compared with participants in the control group. Eighty-four percent of the treatment group had their high school diploma or GED compared with 63 percent of the control group. This difference was statistically significant.

Substance Use
There were no statistically significant differences between the treatment and control groups in substance use.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Hassoun Ayoub and Pooler (2015) conducted a randomized controlled trial to examine the impact of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court on recidivism. The study took place in Upper Manhattan, in New York City, between 2010 and 2012. Parolees were considered eligible if they lived in Upper Manhattan; however, parolees diagnosed with Axis I mental health disorders, sex offenders, and parolees convicted of arson were excluded from participating because the reentry court could not properly address their needs.

A total of 504 parolees were randomly assigned to either the treatment group, who participated in the Harlem Parole Reentry Court (n = 213), or to the control group, who participated in traditional parole (n = 291). The total study sample was predominately male (97.2 percent) and with an average age of 30 years. Most were black (69 percent) or Hispanic (30 percent), and the remaining 1 percent was white. The majority of participants were born in the United States (93 percent). The average participant had four prior custodial sentences, including an average of two in prison. Most had been arrested on felony charges (91 percent), drug charges (84 percent), drug felonies (73 percent), or violent felonies (67 percent) at least once. The treatment and control groups differed on 4 of 51 baseline measures. Parolees in the treatment group were more likely to have been 1) arrested, 2) convicted of a violent felony offense, 3) born in the United States, and 4) released in a different year. The study authors conducted preliminary logistic regression models to examine the impact of these variables and determined they were unlikely to influence the resulting impact findings; therefore, they did not make adjustments to account for these differences.

The outcomes of interest were the number or rearrests, number of reconvictions, number of parole revocations (failure to comply with the conditions of parole), number of months employed, the receipt of a high school diploma or GED, and rate of substance use. Official records were collected from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS). Substance abuse was measured using the Texas Christian University (TCU) Drug Screen, which produced two scores, a drug score and a measure of severity. All measures were collected at a 12- and 18-month follow-up. Logistic regression models were conducted to determine statistically significant differences in outcomes. The study did not conduct subgroup analyses.
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Cost

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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Implementation Information

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The Harlem Parole Reentry Court was established by the Center for Court Innovation in 2001, in partnership with the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. More information can be found on the program’s website: https://www.courtinnovation.org/programs/harlem-reentry-court.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Hassoun Ayoub, Lama, and Tia Pooler. 2015. Coming Home to Harlem: A Randomized Controlled Trial of the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. New York, N.Y.: Center for Court Innovation.
https://www.courtinnovation.org/publications/coming-home-harlem-randomized-controlled-trial-harlem-parole-reentry-court
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Additional References

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Ayoub, Lama Hassoun. 2020. “The Impact of Reentry Court on Recidivism: A Randomized Controlled Trial in Harlem, New York.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 16:101–117.

Farole, Donald J. 2003. The Harlem Parole Reentry Court Evaluation: Implementation and Preliminary Impacts. New York, N.Y.: Center for Court Innovation.

Hamilton, Zachary. 2010. Do Reentry Courts Reduce Recidivism? Results from the Harlem Parole Reentry Court. New York, N.Y.: Center for Court Innovation. (This study was reviewed but did not meet CrimeSolutions.gov criteria for inclusion in the overall program rating.)
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Related Practices

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Following are CrimeSolutions.gov-rated practices that are related to this program:

Adult Reentry Programs
This practice involves correctional programs that focus on the transition of individuals from prison into the community. Reentry programs involve treatment or services that have been initiated while the individual is in custody and a follow-up component after the individual is released. The practice is rated Promising for reducing recidivism.

Evidence Ratings for Outcomes:
Promising - One Meta-Analysis Crime & Delinquency - Multiple crime/offense types
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Program Snapshot

Age: 20 - 40

Gender: Both

Race/Ethnicity: Black, Hispanic, White

Geography: Urban

Setting (Delivery): Correctional, Other Community Setting, Courts

Program Type: Alcohol and Drug Therapy/Treatment, Aftercare/Reentry, Individual Therapy, Probation/Parole Services, Reentry Court, Vocational/Job Training, Wraparound/Case Management

Targeted Population: Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Offenders, Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Researcher:
Lama Hassoun Ayoub
Senior Fellow
Center for Court Innovation
520 8th Avenue, 18th Floor
New York NY 10018
Website
Email

Training and TA Provider:
Debbie Boar
Senior Advisor for Development
Center for Court Innovation
520 8th Avenue, 18th Floor
New York NY 10018
Phone: 347.327.2758
Website
Email