D.A. Vance Announces $3M “Reentry” Investment in West Harlem


October 24, 2019

Investment Targets New Yorkers Impacted by June 2014 Law Enforcement Intervention at Manhattanville and Grant Houses

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the investment of $3 million to create an innovative, West Harlem-based reentry and community healing program. The 3.5-year grant was awarded to the Osborne Association in partnership with the Central/West Harlem Youth Opportunity Hub and the Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation. The D.A.’s Office is providing these grants through its Criminal Justice Investment Initiative (“CJII”), which D.A. Vance created using millions seized in investigations against major banks.

This multi-faceted program is a direct response to a June 2014 law enforcement intervention in ongoing gang violence that resulted in the arrest and prosecution of 103 individuals living in the Manhattanville and Grant housing developments and surrounding areas. The new West Harlem Community Restoration and Reentry Project is designed to sustain the reduction in violence that resulted from law enforcement actions, address trauma resulting from the intervention, and promote long-term healing among residents.

“Helping New Yorkers successfully reenter their communities is not just the right thing to do, it helps keeps us safe,” said District Attorney Vance. “The June 2014 law enforcement intervention which interrupted the gang violence in the Manhattanville and Grant housing developments led to a precipitous drop in the gun violence that had plagued those blocks. To maintain that reduction in violence, we need to invest in the people returning from prison, and the communities to which they will return. This groundbreaking investment will help West Harlem continue to heal through trauma-informed services with the help of credible messengers and mentors.”

“The rippling impact of the 2014 police raids in the Manhattanville and Grant houses affected hundreds of children and families and the entire West Harlem community,” said Osborne Association President and CEO Elizabeth Gaynes. “Osborne is thrilled to support the leadership of people from this vital community, including our partners, the Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation and the Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub. We are grateful to Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office for their emphasis on addressing the trauma resulting from the raid, bolstering capacity for local community-based organizations, promoting long-term community healing, and supporting the successful return home of people incarcerated as a result of the raid.”

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to partner with Osborne Association and the Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation on this historic and groundbreaking endeavor to assist our fellow community members with the reentry process,” said Rev. Maurice Winley. “As the founder of the Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub which is a Credible Messenger led organization that prioritizes healing and transformation from trauma, it brings me great joy to be a recipient of this investment from the Criminal Justice Investment Initiative. LRYOH’s mission is Saving Lives and Healing Communities One Relationship at a Time, through this investment and partnership we have been empowered to be a catalyst for community led restorative justice.”

“The Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation would like to extend its gratitude to District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. and the District Attorney’s Office for making this well needed investment to the community of West Harlem,” said Taylonn Murphy Sr. “We would also like to thank our partners the Osborne Association and Living Redemption Youth Hub for believing in what we see to be a very unique collaboration of experience and expertise to bring peace and healing to the West Harlem Community.”

“This partnership between the Osborne Association, the Central/West Harlem Youth Opportunity Hub, and the Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation brings together extensive experience providing reentry services and intimate knowledge of and deep connections within the community, in a collaborative effort with law enforcement – all crucial to the goals of this project,” said Michael P. Jacobson, Executive Director of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG). “I commend DA Vance for supporting this unique initiative and congratulate all partners.”  

 

Grant Recipients

The Osborne Association: The Osborne Association works in partnership with individuals, families, and communities to create opportunities for people affected by the criminal justice system to further develop their strengths and lead lives of responsibility and contribution. Osborne designs, implements, and advocates for solutions that prevent and reduce the damage caused by crime and incarceration, and their programs offer a broad range of treatment, education, and vocational services to more than 12,000 people involved in the criminal justice system each year. Osborne has more than 300 staff in community sites, prisons and jails in New York who work at every point of the continuum, from arrest and pre-entry, through jail and prison, to reentry, including children and families affected by crime and the criminal justice system. 

Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation: The Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation is a community grassroots organization founded in 2012 in honor of Tayshana “Chicken” Murphy and all young people who have lost their lives to senseless gun violence. Taylonn Murphy Sr., whose daughter Tayshana Chicken Murphy was killed outside the Grant Houses by a resident of the Manhattanville Houses, and whose son was prosecuted in the law enforcement intervention, created the foundation to serve at-risk teens likely to be victims of gun violence. Family and friends from various areas of New York City helped the foundation create youth empowerment programs and support other organizations that have similar initiatives designed to uplift and educate young people in underserved and underprivileged communities.

Central/West Harlem Youth Opportunity Hub: The West Harlem Youth Opportunity Hub, also known as the Living Redemption Youth Opportunity Hub, is a community-based initiative in Central Harlem funded through the Manhattan District Attorney’s Criminal Justice Initiative in affiliation with Community Connections for Youth. The Hub provides one-stop, comprehensive support for at-risk youth and young adults, specifically African American and Latino males age 10-24, in order to prevent them from becoming involved in the criminal justice system.

 

West Harlem Community Restoration and Reentry Project

The project is designed to: (1) promote healing and improve relations within the West Harlem community, as well as between members of the community and local law enforcement, (2) improve outcomes for individuals reentering West Harlem and the surrounding community from jail or prison; and (3) build the capacity of existing local community-based organizations in West Harlem to engage and address the needs and opportunities of community members with a focus on violence prevention.

The Osborne Association and its partners will provide direct reentry services for the 103 individuals that were criminally charged in the 2014 Manhattanville/Grant intervention through a three-pronged approach using credible messenger mentoring, restorative justice and a capacity-building incubator:

  • Credible Messengers: Credible messengers, or mentors who have passed through the justice system, will be matched with individuals prosecuted in the 2014 law enforcement intervention to provide individualized support and structured group mentoring throughout their transition back to the community. Services and programs will include an Alternatives to Violence Program, Individual Success Plan conferencing, SIMBA (Strong, Intelligent Minds Building Alliances) groups, Motivational Interviewing, court and social service accompaniment, and 24-hour on-call crisis support, among others.
  • Restorative Justice: The Central/West Harlem Youth Opportunity Hub and the Tayshana Chicken Murphy Foundation partners will implement restorative justice programming, which seeks to address harm and foster healing through collective processes to strengthen the community. Guided by a map of opportunities and needs, these partners will lead healing circles of various sizes and configurations, including accountability circles, peacekeeping circles, restorative dialogues, family group conferences, and restorative conferences. Ultimately, the program aims to infuse restorative justice principles into West Harlem’s culture.
  • Capacity-building Incubator: The capacity-building incubator will empower and resource existing local community-based organizations in administering services and supports to promote public safety in the Manhattanville and Grant Houses and surrounding community. Three existing local community-based organizations engaged in anti-violence work in West Harlem will receive micro-grants of up to $20,000 per year over three years, in addition to training and technical assistance in fundraising, performance measurement, technology, and financial management. These micro-grants, which be awarded following a separate solicitation process led by the Osborne Association, will strengthen the operations and reach of local organizations to sustain the health of their community.

The West Harlem Community Restoration and Reentry Project program is expected to serve approximately 519 New Yorkers.

 

CJII Research and Consultation Process

Today’s awards follow an open-solicitation, Request for Proposals and review process led by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and facilitated by the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), CJII’s technical assistance provider. Representatives from New York City agencies, including the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice and the New York City Police Department, and organizations including the Tiger Foundation and Youth First Initiative, participated in the review committee and provided expert feedback.  

The CJII plan and investments are the result of an extensive process incorporating research, data analysis, and outreach to community leaders and stakeholders conducted by CUNY ISLG. As the technical assistance provider, ISLG analyzed research in areas affecting public safety in New York City, including systemic factors at the neighborhood level that have an impact on crime, and data from a number of agencies involved in the criminal justice system. In addition, ISLG conducted extensive interviews with more than 250 experts in the criminal justice community and related fields, including clinical practitioners; leaders from philanthropic, non-profit, and grassroots organizations; representatives of local, state, and federal government agencies; academics; and elected officials. Following this process, ISLG worked with the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office to develop a comprehensive set of investments that, together, will have a significant, lasting impact on public safety and justice reform in New York City. ISLG will provide program oversight and performance measurement to grantees selected under CJII.

A full list of investments can be found in CJII’s March 2019 Progress Report.