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Diverse Coalition Unites to Support Transformative Criminal Justice Reform

Feb 21, 2019 by AFP

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Americans for Prosperity-Arkansas (AFP-AR), along with DecARcerate, the Central Arkansas Reentry Coalition, and the Exodus Project, held a press conference to announce their support for a HB 1540, which would help provide second chances for those who have served their time.

Sponsored by Rep. Justin Boyd, Sen. Matt Pitsch, and others, the bill would allow a person who committed non-violent offense to have their record automatically removed from a relevant state agency database (sealed). To be eligible, the person would have to have completed their probation/or sentence for a felony or wait five years after their conviction for a misdemeanor.

AFP-AR State Director Ryan Norris issued the following statement:

“No one should be judged forever by what they did on their worst day. People who have paid their debt to society should be able to earn a second chance and put their past transgressions behind them. It’s neither just nor smart to ask individuals leaving prison to become upstanding members of the community while forcing them to wear a Scarlet Letter that puts a job or an education virtually out of reach.

“We’re thankful for the work of Rep. Boyd and Sen. Pitsch, as well as our coalition partners, for moving this sensible reform forward. We’re working to maintain public safety while helping deliver second chances for those who have earned one, and we’re just getting started.”

Central Arkansas Reentry Coalition Chairman Leta Anthony issued the followed statement:

“This bill is a good step to create real second chance opportunities for the reentering population. It opens opportunities in housing and employment. The collation and its collaborative partners are working with others to ensure passage of this bill and many other like it.”

The Exodus Project Academy Director Mallory Goff issued the following statement:

“This bill can be life-changing for the men and women coming out of prison and help restore their self-worth and future employability. But most importantly, this will strengthen families by reuniting them and making sure they are able to find a job and provide. It also will send a message to our children that adults can make a mistake, learn from it, and be restored.”   

DecARerate Spokesperson Denise Chai issued the following statement:

“This bill is an important step in alleviating the burdens that formerly incarcerated persons are forced to bear, and for that reason, DecARcerate is proud to support it. Time and time again, we witness lives negatively affected, not only by incarceration, but the systemic injustices faced when individuals are released from prison. We seek a system that’s fair and just for all—a place where all Arkansans have the opportunity to thrive and live their best lives.”