The city of Little Rock will celebrate the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday by partnering with several organizations to provide resources for those re-entering society after incarceration.
The Rights After Wrongs event, now in its third year, is planned for Jan. 19 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Attendees working to restart their lives will have the opportunity to connect with attorneys, service providers and employers at the Arkansas Workforce Center, 5401 S. University Ave.
"We all understand that we have brothers and sisters that are re-entering society, and we as the city of Little Rock have to be great ambassadors to them as they re-enter society and make certain that we focus on workforce development for them," Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. said at a Tuesday morning news conference announcing the event.
Services will include job readiness assistance, interviews with potential employers, legal consultations in English and Spanish, health screenings, flu shots and tail light repair.
Attendees will be able to consult with lawyers about sealing their criminal records and receive information from Arkansas Driver Control on how to get their driving privileges restored.
Participants must provide identification, their sentencing order and their Arkansas Crime Information report if they wish to get help with a petition to expunge.
Ericka Benedicto, the city's racial and cultural diversity manager, said these services target barriers people may face when trying to gain employment post-incarceration but may feel too intimidated to approach a lawyer about.
About 350 people attended last year's event, she said.
Arkansas has a recidivism rate of 56 percent among its general inmate population, meaning that percentage of inmates is incarcerated again within three years of their release, according to Central Arkansas Re-Entry Coalition Chariman Leta Anthony.
Na'eem Rasul, a 40-year-old Arkansan who was released from a state prison after 8½ years in April, said that number was not surprising to him.
"It's no secret to me why so many people who are released from prison make poor choices, can't effectively communicate their thoughts into words, and fail to move with a world that's constantly evolving. So they recidivate because that's what they've grown accustomed to," he said at the news conference.
He said he felt a sense of hopelessness behind bars, but upon his release received help from the Rock City Reentry Project, a division of the Little Rock Workforce Development Board and one of the event's partners. He now works for a North Little Rock trucking company.
"The reason for my success was because of the gift that was given to me and the one that I gave back in return," he said.
More information is available at (501) 244-5483 or by emailing email@example.com. Those looking to participate as volunteers or service providers can register on the city's website, littlerock.gov.
Mayor Frank Scott Jr. speaks Tuesday during a news conference at Little Rock City Hall to announce the Rights After Wrongs day of service event in honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday.
Metro on 01/09/2019
Print Headline: MLK Day event in Little Rock offers hand to ex-inmates