An upcoming film series at the Akron-Summit County Public library looks at how to help people re-enter society after serving time in prison.
“In 2001, a young man came up to me in the main library and said, ‘ma’am, I’ve just been released from prison. And I need help. That one moment in time started my passion," says librarian Simone Richardson. Since then, she's worked to connect people previously incarcerated -- or those who have criminal records – with employment, a place to live, or even voter registration. She’ll be doing that every Thursday in January and February with the "Reentry in Motion" film series at the main library downtown. This year, several of the films are intended to make people aware of how former inmates can be exploited.
"Pimps will put money on female prisoner’s books, give them a home to go to, care for them, and then after a while, send them out into the streets to become prostitutes. Perhaps reentry providers don’t realize what’s going on in the community. I didn’t realize this was happening in society. Another film investigates how prisons are recruiting grounds for human traffickers."
Richardson also hosts a monthly Reentry Table Sit (RETS), where she provides people with
community resources and job training and placement programs using the Reentry Job Search Resources Guide she’s compiled.
Richardson calls them “restored citizens,” and says – in her experience -- the stigma about hiring them has declined over the past decade.
“Reentry advocates, reentry providers, and reentry legislators – which are Congressmen and women who have created laws that positively effect – have changed minds, hearts and attitudes of the public.”
The “Reentry in Motion” film series runs over the next eight Thursdays at the main library downtown.
RETS is a monthly program running from 2-3 p.m. on January 15, February 12, March 11, April 29, and May 13, with dates for the rest of the year to follow.