Karlton Harris is an accomplished community leader and speaker with more than 20 years of experience in designing and implementing supports designed to improve the lives of underserved youth and communities. Currently, Mr. Harris is the Executive Director of The Forgotten Third, Inc. As the Executive Director of The Forgotten Third, Mr. Harris created a strategic vision and direction for the development of supports designed to address the root causes of youth violent behavior. Prior to becoming the Executive Director of The Forgotten Third, Karlton served Houstonians as the Youth Violence Prevention City Lead for six consecutive years. As the lead, he was responsible for the creation of The Houston Peace Youth Violence Strategic Plan and Houston Peace Youth Violence Prevention Coalition. Karlton is an active member of the Harris County Re-entry Workgroup and The Redefining Youth Justice Coalition.
In 2009, Karlton released his book, “I’m Free! Now What?” a 10 step Prisoner Guide to reduce recidivism and his documentary “Against All Odds”. His book was an instant success. Mr. Harris was the 2010 Aida Ford Scholar Award Recipient for his book and became the face of re-entry. He was highlighted by the Atlanta post as one of eight ex-offenders with an inspiring transformation. His book opened doors for him to publicly speak and advise government entities and non-profit organizations on strategies to assist those returning home from incarceration. Karlton’s book has been implemented as a resource to reduce recidivism by the Illinois Department of Corrections, Georgia Department of Corrections, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons. In 2010, he was the Keynote Speaker for Good News Jail and Prison Ministry in Virginia and a 2010 workshop presenter for the Prison Fellowship’s Atlanta Out4Life Conference. In 2011, he was showcased by the Atlanta’s Post as one of eight ex-offenders with an inspiring transformation.
In 2012, Karlton served as the re-entry director for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, where he created the Barrier Eliminator (B.E.) Re-entry Program. Karlton was a 2013 conference workshop speaker at the Family Prisoner Conference in Houston, Texas. His fatherhood advice is valued to the extent that Oprah Winfrey invited him as a guest on her “Fatherless Sons Life Class” which aired July 7, 2013. In 2016, he joined the City of Houston’s My Brother’s Keeper Movement where he created The ReDirect Diversion Program and currently serves as the Violence Prevention City Lead. Karlton was a guest speaker at the 2016 Big Brothers Big Sisters National Conference and a moderator of one of the workshops. He was the keynote speaker for Gulf Coast Community Services Association event during summer 2016. Karlton was a workshop facilitator for The Travis County Sheriff’s Office Vision Summit: Looking Toward the Future of Re-entry conference in Austin, Texas. In the fall of 2019, Karlton was introduced to the Community Connections for Youth and the Credible Messenger Justice Center by Henry Gonzalez, Harris County Juvenile Probations Department (HCJPD) Chief Probation Officer. In partnership with HCJPD, Karlton traveled to New York and toured New York’s Probation office, credible messenger Arches program and obtained training at the Credible Messenger Justice Center. In December 2021, Karlton was acknowledged for his work as a Credible Messenger. The Credible Messenger Justice Center awarded him with a National Impact Award. Both Karlton’s professional and personal endeavors, including his own experience as an individual with “lived experience”, makes Mr. Harris uniquely qualified as a leader and mentor.
For over 2 decades, since being released from prison, Karlton has been serving as a Credible Messenger and peer mentor to justice involved youth and young adults. Karlton, his wife, six sons and three granddaughters reside in Houston, Texas.