Criminal Law Reform and Re-Entry
Criminal Law Reform and Re-Entry
Central in Action is proud to partner with organizations across the city to advocate for a more just and equitable criminal legal system and to walk with people as they come home from jail and prison. Learn more about our partners and initiatives below.
In 2016, members of our leadership team consulted with more than 500 Central congregants to learn about the issues in New York which most impacted and troubled our members. Overwhelmingly, our congregation asked us to focus on issues of racial justice, criminal justice, education, and immigration. Since then, we have worked in coalition with activists, advocates, and congregations from around New York to effect change in our state.
Our Current Work
The Coming Home Program
15 years ago, Dr. Dawn Ravella, Founder of Communities for Healing & Justice, started Coming Home. The 6-month program, now housed at Central, is designed to welcome formerly incarcerated individuals into a supportive cohort. Coming Home seeks to accompany people on this journey as they set goals, heal past traumas, and become active citizens as we all grow together as individuals within our communities.
Would you like to learn more about and volunteer with The Coming Home Program? Please reach out to Rabbi Hilly Haber at [email protected] to get involved.
Re-Entry Theater of Harlem
Central is home to the Re-Entry Theater of Harlem (RTH), a program and organization developed by and for people who have lived experience in the U.S. criminal legal system. The mission of RTH is to empower and support people in safe and creative spaces as they make the difficult transition from prison back to society.
RTH utilizes art, rituals, and theatrical rites of passage to help individuals address and overcome the shame, stigma, and trauma of incarceration. Ultimately, participants devise and enact a threshold crossing to mark the formal transition from prison back into their communities and a new stage of life.
Led by Director Alex Anderson, RTH members meet every week at Central for rehearsal and community-building opportunities. Learn more and support RTH here.
Central Teshuvah Initiative; A Fellowship for Returning Citizens (CTI)
Over the summer of 2023, Central members organized paid summer internships for people coming home from jail or prison. This inaugural CTI cohort worked in public health, public policy, media, and law. With the support of Central mentors and Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison (https://hudsonlink.org/), CTI fellows gained work experience and access to networks in new and exciting job fields.
Supporting Jewish Life in NYC Jails
Central members travel to city jails every month to pray and learn with people on the inside. Email Rabbi Hilly Haber if you would like to participate in a worship service.
Hour Children is a leading provider of services to incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in New York. With a particular focus on women and their children, Hour Children supports families during a mother’s incarceration and helps families get back on their feet upon release by providing housing, childcare, job training, and mental health services.
Central works with Hour Children to provide meals, toiletries, and clothing to families in need through the organization’s pantry based in Long Island City. This volunteer opportunity occurs on the second Monday of every month. Learn more and sign up to volunteer here.
In partnership with RAC-NY, the NY Jewish Coalition on Criminal Justice Reform, and directly impacted advocates and communities across New York City and state, Central has worked on several successful criminal law reform and public safety bills, including:
Clean Slate NY economic, housing, and employment justice campaign to ensure that people with conviction histories have access to opportunities integral to living safe and stable lives. Far too many experience a conviction history as a state of perpetual punishment, but the Clean Slate Act implements automatic record sealing that allows New Yorkers to participate fully in their communities.
Less is More parole justice campaign to advance decarceration and public safety in New York, benefiting families and communities, as well as saving millions of dollars for NY State.
Turn on the TAP NY education justice campaign to reinstate New York’s Tuition Assistance Program for men and women earning college degrees while incarcerated.
Raise the Age NY juvenile justice campaign to raise the presumptive age of criminal responsibility in New York and advocate for justice, support, and resources for youth in our carceral system.