Arkansans newly released from prison will soon be able to attend an annual service event aimed at providing a range of opportunities for employment, among other services.
The Rights After Wrongs program, now in its third year, provides residents who served their time the ability to get job readiness assistance, alongside other services like health screenings. This year’s event is on Saturday, January 19.
Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr. says Little Rock needs to economically support its citizens that are re-entering society in order to better the city overall.
“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 sure that we focus on workforce development for them, that we focus on entrepreneurship for them.” Scott said. “We [need to] make sure we have welcoming arms to them to let them know Little Rock is an open city to all returning residents as they come back into the fold.”
Ericka Benedicto, the diversity program manager for the city’s Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission, says the service helped an average of 350 people in each of the past two years. She expects at least the same number of people to attend this year’s event too.
Some of the other services offered include: legal consultations in both English and Spanish, the opportunity to interview with employers, assistance with resumes, a petition to seal a criminal record service and tail light repair. These services are available to all who attend, even if they live outside of Pulaski County, though the petition to seal service does require prior registration.
W.J. Monagle, with the Arkansas Department of Workforce Services, says most residents getting out of prison are eager to join the workforce.
“They are people that want to pay their debt or have paid their debt and want to move on with their life. They want to do something positive, they want to contribute, they want to give back and that’s what we’re here to allow them to do,” Monagle said. “We don’t always give them the best opportunity or chances to do that, and we as a society need to turn that around and make it easier for them to gain employment.”
Pulaski County residents have the additional opportunity to attend leniency court. According to Benedicto, it must be a court located in Pulaski county and the cases must be either misdemeanors, outstanding fines or a failure to appear in court. Those interested in leniency court must be at the event by 9:30 a.m.