JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The effort to help felons re-enter the workforce was active and loud Saturday morning on the streets of Jonesboro.
Dozens of people, wielding picket signs, gathered on the corner of Cedar Heights Drive and Melrose Road for the Future of Felons rally.
Felons in God’s Hands Together (FIGHT) passed out information, as Sen. John Cooper (R-Jonesboro) spoke with residents about the red tape preventing felons from getting jobs.
Cooper said his efforts in Act 990 defined offenses that would disqualify felons from work; however, he said there’s a need for placement in the workforce.
“There’s a real need in the community people to have a pathway back to occupational future and be able to earn a living,” he said. “Recidivism through the state and it’s way too high. We need to see what we can do about reducing that and giving people hope for the future.”
Act 990 has boards appointed to make the decision on whether or not to allow a felon to reenter work. This is done through set guidelines.
Now, Cooper said there’s the conversation of the board not continuing.
“We are, I think, by far ahead of most states in dealing with that issue,” he said. “We’ve been having some meetings with state leaders and I think it’s in the governor’s hands right now if he is going to reappoint that committee to continue the work that has started there and I expect him to do that.”
Cooper said the community needs a way back to an occupational future.