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Picture this: The prison recidivism rates in Arkansas drops drastically due to the efforts of a program started by a single man who himself spent some years behind bars ... and found redemption.

That scenario is the goal of the Compassion in Action Re-entry program -- for which Picture This, the second annual art-theme fundraiser, was held Nov. 16 at Little Rock's Chenal Country Club. Attendees enjoyed heavy hors d'oeuvres as they perused paintings, sculptures and other works of art, a number of which had been created by newsroom staff at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. They later bid on live-auction items hawked by Layton Howell.

Michael F. Johninson Sr., founder and executive director, greeted guests and introduced the Rev. Donnie Copeland, former state representative and master of ceremonies. Board member Gene McKissic urged support for the program. Sandra Paradise-Johnson also offered remarks.

Johninson shared his own story of incarceration and the divine direction he received in founding the 12-week intensive program, which offers "structure, training, education and mentoring" to prison inmates preparing to re-enter society as well as those already released.

Also highlighting the evening was the reading of several letters from grateful student-clients of the program, which currently boasts a 90 percent success rate. Wrote one, "I believe Compassion in Action can go a long way in helping keep inmates free." Wrote another, "I really want to join the ... program when I get out because I believe in it. But the most important of all is, I believe in the vision of Mr. Johninson. ... He has inspired me to chase my dreams to implement my ideas without fear of failing."

-- Story and photos by Helaine R. Williams

Gallery: Picture This, a Compassion in Action Re-entry program benefit

High Profile on 12/03/2017

Print Headline: Picture This raises Compassion cash

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