Group calls for easier re-entry for released offenders with uptown march

Group calls for easier re-entry for released offenders with uptown march

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - A group of people, some with criminal records, marched in uptown Charlotte Friday night to send a message.

"What you think a criminal looks like isn't always what you think," marcher Kristie Williams said.

Williams said she was a victim of domestic abuse, turned to drugs, and ultimately ended up serving time. She says she has since turned her life around, even getting her Master's degree – but not without challenges, including the search for housing.

"You pay application fee after application fee, just to be denied over and over again," she said.

Williams and her group "Reentry Partners of Mecklenburg" say that for people with criminal records, returning to life outside of prison can be difficult.

"Often times this population ends up homeless, or going back to jail or prison," she said.

Williams associates the city's affordable housing crisis with some of what she describes as an uphill battle.

"It's difficult to find affordable housing in the city, and work at a living wage," she said.

"It is a major battle," fellow marcher Ramona Brant said.

Brant had her life sentenced shortened after she was granted clemency by President Obama in 2015. She and Williams say what they want now is a second chance in Charlotte.

"Fairness in employment, fairness with housing," Brant said. "We would just like that opportunity, to live."

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