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
A 30-Year Perspective
Eric Higgins was elected Pulaski County Sheriff in 2019 and has just begun his second term. The Sheriff and Paul Chapman of Restore Hope Arkansas explore lessons and insights from Higgins’ three decades in law enforcement.
Current reform of the state’s criminal justice system does focus on protecting Arkansans from violent crime, but Attorney General Tim Griffin supports using the court system to identify demoralized, low-level offenders for whom poverty and lack of education have been self-perpetuating.
A Judge Compels Change
Judge Sarah Capp of the 7th Judicial District, serving Franklin and Johnson counties, wants nothing less than prosperity for the defendants in her courtroom, and she’s devised a program to spur their pursuit of mental, physical and financial health.
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.
Community Diversion Issue – Spring 2023
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-involved fellow citizens. Smart Justice publication is made possible by Arkansas Churches for Life Foundation.