Back in February, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had signed a Proclamation for “Reentry Awareness Week” for April 24-30; now Reentry Officer Susan Honore of the Arkansas Community Correction (ACC) is seeking to make good on the Governor's words, establishing a first-of-its kind Job Fair for the southwestern Arkansas region.
Back in February, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson had signed a Proclamation for “Reentry Awareness Week” for April 24-30; now Reentry Officer Susan Honore of the Arkansas Community Correction (ACC) is seeking to make good on the Governor’s words, establishing a first-of-its kind Job Fair for the southwestern Arkansas region.
“We are having a ‘Reentry Job Fair’ at the Hempstead Hall on Wednesday, April 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. We are in need of local employers to get involved. If we can work together on behalf of our communities and bring awareness of this issue, we can make something happen,” Honore said.
Dubbed “Let’s Get Hired,” the unique event seeks to bring non-violent offenders and rehabilitated adults back into the workforce, and away from repeat incarceration. Honore, who oversees eight Arkansas counties as a Reentry Officer for Adult Probation/Parole, said Thursday that some regional-based employers like Tyson, Southern Bakery, Husqvarna, and McDonald’s have been willing to participate.
“These folks have paid their debt to society and are ready to move on with their lives in a meaningful and productive way; putting these folks to work means putting them back on the tax rolls, putting wages in their pockets, and pulling them away from a cycle of repeat offenses,” Honore said.
She said that some employees receive tax and employment incentives to rehire the transitioning offenders through programs like WOTC and WOIA.
“These are not bad folks; many are good people, who have either made mistakes or made bad decisions. Sometimes, it is more about personal circumstances, like addiction, or getting involved with the ‘wrong people,’ but they are deserving of a second chance,” she said.
Off a perspective pool of 300 paroles, Honore believes that as many as 50-percent or employable immediately, while others are trainable.
“There are also incentives out there to get these folks some certifications or vocational training; this can be a very good pool of labor for certain industries and blue-collar types of work,” she said.
The “Reentry Job Fair” will otherwise function much as a conventional job fair or student-based fair. The itinerary at Hempstead Hall calls for meetings with employers, mock interviews, resume assistance, and skills analysis, according to Honore.
The Governor’s Proclamation notes that “90-percent of Arkansas inmates eventually are released into the communities.”