Group fights to end discrimination for felons outside prison walls

Published: Aug. 26, 2018 at 12:04 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 26, 2018 at 9:24 AM CDT
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A group of people attend the Future for Felons public meeting to learn and hear about the...
A group of people attend the Future for Felons public meeting to learn and hear about the justice system (Source: KAIT)

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Future for Felons, a local group, continued Saturday to fight for justice for felons.

The Jonesboro group's goals are to help felons get a fair, second chance at life outside of prison walls, ultimately breaking the cycle of re-offending.

On Saturday, the group held a public meeting at Parker Park Community Center to inform people about the justice system's profit and how it could be hurting felons' success.

"There's a profit aspect to our justice system that we do not need to be in the dark about," said Imevbore Elugbe, a Future for Felons member and minister. "We need to be informed about the profit aspect of the justice system. This industry is a $182-billion industry."

Elugbe believes profit made off prisons can skew and taint justice for felons.

"It's the taxpayers' dollars being used to build prisons," said Elugbe. "When prisons are built, they must be filled. It's imperative they make life difficult for formerly incarcerated people. Because the harder it is for them, the more likely felons are going to re-offend and go back to prison."

Future for Felons is fighting to end mass incarceration by working with state legislators to get rid of laws they believe discriminate against felons, including employment, housing, and voting laws.

"Prison is a place for discrimination," said Elugbe. "It's a place to take away rights. It's a place for no opportunity. That's what prison is for, for punishment, but when they come out here, protection of rights is a requirement. It's liberty and justice for all out here."

According to Elugbe, he believes these laws are designed to discourage felons, which eventually leads them back to the life of crime and behind bars, ultimately causing mass incarceration.

"Until those policies and those laws change, we will always have this high recidivism rate," said Elugbe. "We'll always be building more prisons and locking up people. If you fill out an application for a job, there's going to be a question there asking if you have been convicted of a felon. If you answer yes, you are not getting that job. Those type of things, that's discrimination. To discriminate out here, that's unjust. That's what we are fighting for."

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