Roosevelt “Bliss” Arrington was raised by his grandparents until their passing. In search of a place to belong, Arrington joined the US Army. After six years of service and an Honorable Discharge, he returned home to live with his mother, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Taking on the responsibility as caregiver and provider, Arrington found it difficult to obtain employment. Falling into a negative crowd, Arrington was arrested in 1985 for possession of a firearm and received probation, which he violated in 1987 and was sentenced to four years for attempted robbery. Upon release, he struggled to find employment and returned to the streets and negative choices. Later sentenced to 12 years, Arrington realized it was time to change and began mentoring young men where he was incarcerated. Released in October 2017, he began working and enrolled in Columbia University’s Justice in Education program. Today, Arrington interacts with youth, working with NYPD 103 and 113’s Gang Division to bridge the gap with the community. He is a speaker at New Dawn Charter School, speaking about the importance of education.

Please research the existing laws on rights for returning citizens in your state; advocate for access to jobs, housing, and healthcare for folks who have been released from prison; and fight against unjust background checks in your area.