J.C. Flowers Foundation Works with Thomas Edwards on the Harlem Parolee


The Harlem Parolee Initiative is creating partnerships to support ex-cons’ reentry into society.
Image: Shutterstock

The J.C. Flowers Foundation is now working with Thomas Edwards on their Harlem Parolee Initiative.

The Harlem Parolee Initiative started in 2010, when the J.C. Flowers Foundation was asked to pilot an innovative partnership among government, academic, and faith-based organizations, designed to help re-integrate recent parolees into Harlem’s vibrant community.

As stated on the J.C. Flowers Foundation’s website, most of the parolees—predominantly young men of color—are released into an environment of poverty, unemployment, and unstable housing which can have a huge influence on their lives and can even lead to high re-incarceration rates. In fact, these numbers shake out to 30% within a year of release and 42% within three years.

The Harlem Parolee Initiative also works with strong partners including:

  • Harlem Community Justice Center
  • Interfaith Center of New York
  • Harvard Kennedy School of Government—Program in Criminal Justice Policy & Management

Luckily, the J.C. Flowers Foundation, founded by J. Christopher Flowers, is now working with Thomas Edwards to give Harlem ex-cons a chance to find success after their release. Thomas Edwards is a former bank-robber who was released last year. He knows the struggles of the parolees in the program and is a great asset to the organization for that reason.

Edwards not only wants to help parolees re-enter the Harlem community; he also wants to keep members of the community from going to jail in the first place.

Why Harlem?

  • Manhattan has the highest number of parolees of any county in the country.
  • Upper Manhattan receives more than 2,200 parolees each year.
  • One seven-block stretch in Harlem is known as a “re-entry corridor” where one in 20 men has been incarcerated.
  • A strong grassroots community exists that is willing to partner on a solution to this urgent, endemic problem.

You can view a full video of an interview with J. Christopher Flowers and Thomas Edwards here.


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