Putting solutions to work that improve people’s lives
Arkansans for Smart Justice is a statewide coalition dedicated to making justice work better for Arkansas and its citizens. Our movement is nonpartisan, open-armed and diverse. By working together, we envision a future in which agency and law enforcement staff are connected effectively with community services, helping people leave prison with prospects, hope, and second chances — driving community stability and economic activity, reducing crime and incarceration, and lowering the burden on taxpayers.
“We believe Arkansas can lead the nation…in its second chance employment rate and its success with foster-child reunification.”
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Strengthening Arkansas Families Over the Last Year
increase in full-time employment
families moved into stable housing
increase in income among individuals served
children reunited with their parents
Making a change to better a community
For many years, Sebastian County suffered per capita the state’s highest arrest rate and the highest number of children in foster care. These numbers have shifted downward significantly due to efforts and collaborations among police, social services, government agencies and the community. Fort Smith Police Chief Danny Baker and his department are increasingly using diversionary techniques to keep citizens out of jail and to help families solve their problems.
“We will strive to improve the lives of everyone we encounter.”
Everybody has a part to play
In the almost four decades since Joyce Williams Warren first donned a judge’s robe and launched her career of protecting the young and guiding their families, the world has not become more idyllic. Children still hurt. Families remain living in squalor, babies continue to be born drug-addicted. Parents lose jobs, lose custody, and go to prison. Yet the vigor with which she continues to plead for children to be protected, for their families to be lifted from poverty, and for sensitivity to be offered for traumas they have endured, is none diminished.
“We don’t have the ideal world, but we need to seek perfection.”
To save children, save their familes
Championed by Mischa Martin, the six-year director of the Arkansas Department of Children and Family Services, Arkansas was the first state to implement the 2018 Family First Prevention Services Act, landmark federal legislation providing funds for prevention and emphasizing the importance of children growing up within their families and avoiding the trauma of entering foster care.
“We want to work with families to help them get back on a path of strength and stability.”
Meet the people driving
Paul Chapman, Executive Director
Paul, Founder and Executive Director of Restore Hope Arkansas, is responsible for catalyzing and coordinating allocated resources for measurable results throughout the community. His vision helped create the 100 Families initiative, tying community agencies together for a reentry partnership between public and private sectors. This has led to decreased recidivism and successful community diversion programs in Arkansas’ justice system. He previously served as Executive Missions Pastor at Fellowship Bible Church and founded The Exodus Project, providing community support and assistance for expatriate Rwandan students. He currently serves on the boards of Every Child Arkansas, Sebastian County Opioid Task Force and Mercy Hospital Community Health Committee.
Renie Rule, Community Engagement Director
As Community Engagement Director for Restore Hope Arkansas, Renie is responsible for RHA’s work with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute, community outreach, and fundraising. Renie is directly responsible for the creation of the Father Lou Franz Endowment Fund which funds community engagement and growth. Previously she served as Executive Director and Vice President for Arkansas Hospice Foundation raising over $1.85m in contributions. She also served as Executive Director of Development for UAMS. Renie currently serves on the boards of Paws in Prison, Tucker Max Prison Chapel, Brent Renaud Foundation Advisory Board, AETN Documentary Board, and Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame.
Karen Phillips, Director of Operations
Karen is the Director of Operations for Restore Hope Arkansas. She has 22 years of experience in community development and housing. Karen is a NGMA Certified Grant Management Specialist and a nationally certified Community Housing Development Organization Specialist. As a foster parent, Karen works with families in Arkansas to preserve and reunite families. Karen currently serves on the Opioid Task Force and the Old Fort Homeless Coalition Board of Directors. She has previously served on the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas Advisory Council. She has won multiple awards for program implementation and leadership including the ACHANGE Leadership Award, HUD Special Recognition, and Best Overall Program from ACAAA.
Sarah Littleton, Director of Systems & Training
Sarah Littleton joined the Restore Hope team in 2016 and has had the opportunity to serve in many roles within the organization since. Most notably, Sarah helped to architect Restore Hope’s Collaborative Case Management Model through her service as a case manager in both re-entry and court diversion/prevention, which led to what we now know as 100 Families. In addition, she has overseen the development of the HopeArk system since 2018. In her current role, she oversees the HopeArk team, in addition to working to scale Collaborative Case Management by providing technical assistance to Restore Hope’s 100 Families affiliate sites.
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We seek to explore ways in which creative, innovative Arkansans are reinventing how justice can work better — for families, for society, for our economy. The possibilities are endless when we rethink and connect the programs, services and leaders that surround our justice-involed fellow citizens.