Rights After Wrongs is a local organization whose goal is to provide formerly incarcerated individuals with support to help get their lives back on the right track.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It’s not easy to ask for help after a misstep, but plenty of people found the strength to ask for that help at Saturday’s Rights After Wrongs event.
Shaneka Jones was once in the same place as many of those walking through the doors of the LRSD Developmental Training Center.
“I was incarcerated for a real estate licensing law, and I had a robbery charge,” Jones explained. “I know what that’s like, I know what it feels like to be given a second chance.”
It’s something that she’ll always carry, but it’s not holding her back. Reentry services, like those provided at Saturday’s event, are what helped get Jones back on her feet.
“I want everyone to realize that your past is your past,” she said. “We want to help you with your future.”
Leta Anthony, Chairperson for the Central Arkansas Reentry Coalition, helped organize Rights After Wrongs.
“Events like this make it easier because they know that this type of event is being put together specifically to meet their needs,” Anthony said.
And there were plenty of different services available to Arkansans.
“We’ve heard a lot about the fact that we’ve got food deserts,” Anthony said, pointing out a booth on how to cook fresh meals.
Legal services, such as leniency court and record sealing, were available to visitors as well.
“Judges can be people who smile, who can have conversations with you,” said Wendell Griffen, Circuit Judge for the 6th Circuit Court. “This is important for people to see because a system that keeps people frightened of justice cannot be a just system.”
Along with legal services, voter registration was a major push.
“We had a couple people bring their discharge papers, and we were able to register them to vote and they’ll get their card in a couple of weeks,” said Terri Hollingsworth Pulaski County Circuit Clerk.
All of these services were set up and provided to help people succeed.
“So we’re asking them to change that bad decision making into good decision making, and saying to them, here’s the support to help you do that,” Anthony said.
Because while it may be hard to get back on your feet, all it takes is often a helping hand.
“That’s one of the reasons why I try and share my story with people and try to let them know that if I can make it, and I can overcome that challenge, they can too,” Jones said. “There’s no difference between me and them.”