The Mission of Charles LaCourt

Charles LaCourt, Jr.

Charles LaCourt, Jr. was born on in 1952 in Harlem. He was the first of four children, and growing up he was always open to learning.

Charles would be the first to tell you, he made some bad choices as a young adult that led him to some dealings with the law.  He would also be the first to tell you that prison life is hard, and the life you come home to after being away can be difficult.  He knew that he could help people by sharing his experiences and he made it his life's mission to help others.

Because of his personal experiences, Charles was passionate about helping those who were in danger of going to prison, were in prison or were returning to the community from prison. He became Clinical Supervisor for the Adolescent Employability Skills Plus Program (AESPP), a community based program which provided intervention and prevention services for youth at risk. Later, The Center for Law and Justice hired Charles as a Community Outreach Worker. His ability to communicate with underserved people, particularly the youth, helped the Center’s HUD-funded Prevention and Empowerment Program (PREP) win national recognition. In addition, Charles became involved in teaching the Street Smart curriculum to Albany High students and others for a number of years. Young people quickly identified with him and appreciated his honesty and candor. In 2000 Charles was hired as the Program Manager of Intensive Case Management Program for the AIDS Council of Northeastern New York. He initiated a bilingual team to serve non-English speaking clients. Charles provided oversight to eleven case management staff and supervision of three supervising team leaders.

In his last several years Charles was the Community Prosecution Coordinator for the Office of the Albany County District Attorney. Charles was passionate about helping offenders understand the harm they have done to the community and helping them seek ways in which they can directly repair that harm. As a founding member of the Community Accountability Board he supervised the program in which members of the community meet with offenders in a reparative experience.

Charles contributed to the life and vitality of the city of Albany in innumerable ways. He was a co-founder of ROOTS (Re-Entry Opportunities and Orientations for Success). ROOTS members model a positive re-entry into the community. Under Charles’s careful leadership and direction, collaborations with New York State Division of Parole, The Rensselaer County RE-Entry Taskforce and the AIDS Council of Northeastern NY have resulted in ROOTS mentoring sessions in 3 counties and at Hudson Correctional Facility. In New York State, the ROOTS 6 Point program has become a respected model of orientation and mentoring for persons who have been formerly incarcerated.

Charles supplied humor to tackle difficult situation, as he disarmed resistance which often led to the basic understanding of the issue or the question. He was culturally astute and he utilized his roots in the Puerto Rican Diaspora to gain a more relevant view of his existence. In Albany Charles served on many boards and was active in many organizations. He was on the Board of Directors of the Albany Latin Festival Association and served as its Volunteer Coordinator. He served on the boards of Prison Families of New York, the NY Civil Liberties regional chapter, the Albany County Alternative to Incarceration Board, the Working Families Party and others. Charles also maintained a rich collaboration with Trinity Institution on behalf of ROOTS, Inc. and in various other projects. He earned many awards for his community service.

Charles was active in several local political campaigns and was engaged in progressive politics. He was a leader of the Working Families Party (WFP) in Albany and throughout the Capital District. His participation in the WFP as a Steering Committee member of the Capital District Chapter was enriched by his passion for progressive politics, his commitment to grassroots activism, and his appreciation of strategic thinking.

Charles became a pillar of quiet determination and strength in the Albany community and the Capital District at large. In his political work as in all other aspects of his life, Charles was committed to social justice and the improvement of life for the least powerful among us. It is impossible to gage how many people he personally helped and encouraged in his life.

For Charles LaCourt, Jr., life was all about service. And he served us all so well.