Record-Breaking Attendance at Riviera Beach Second Chance Event

Record-Breaking Attendance at Riviera Beach Second Chance Event

Hundreds turn out for free legal and social services from dozens of providers working together to empower people with arrest records by providing access to community resources.

Riviera Beach, FL (July 26, 2022) –

Over 229 people received help with 519 legal and social service needs in just under six hours in Riviera Beach on July 9, 2022. The enthusiastic crowd was greeted by over a dozen attorneys and eighteen nonprofit organizations. Hosted by Florida Justice Center, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, and Cresco Labs, the event successfully gave people with arrest records a fresh start and a second chance at success.

Held at least once monthly, Florida Justice Center’s signature Second Chance Events are a way of bringing communities throughout the state together for a common cause: to provide access to resources in underserved neighborhoods. The Riviera Beach event was the largest to date with nearly two dozen community partners helping with housing, employment, bus passes, food assistance, government benefits, court fines and fees, immigration, sealing and expungement, driver license reinstatement, HIV testing, and more.

Florida Justice Center Executive Director, Jonathan Bleiweiss, declared the event a resounding success. “I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from the community. The stigma of an arrest, even without a conviction, is a heavy burden that weighs down far too many people. We work hard to plan and host these events, so when people come up to me crying in joy because they’ve felt relief for the first time in decades… that is what keeps us going.”

Florida Justice Center and Florida Rural Legal Services are now helping 39 people who qualified for sealing and expungement at the event get a fresh start, 22 people with their application for clemency to restore their civil rights, and 85 people with driver license reinstatement issues, 37 people with court fines and fees, and 15 people with criminal defense matters. 77 people received housing assistance and 45 people received employment assistance from organizations such as Gulfstream Goodwill, Palm Beach County Reentry Division, CareerSource Palm Beach County, and the Riviera Beach Reentry Center. Other groups providing services at the event included Palm Tran, NAACP of South Palm Beach County, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Health Council of Southeast Florida, Florida Community Health Centers, Florida Blue, Victory Resource Center, League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County, CROS Ministries, and Nuage Medical.

Riviera Beach is a very diverse city, with the last census showing a population that is composed of 78.1% people of color. Florida Justice Center’s event drew 229 attendees, 94.5% of whom self-identified as Black, multi-racial, Native American/First Nation or Hispanic/Latinx. Since people of color are disproportionately impacted by the criminal justice system and face greater barriers to reentry after incarceration, this event successfully reached those most affected by those disparities. Of particular note is that attendees of the event had a median per capita income of just $14,400, nearly one-third of the average for Palm Beach County.

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Florida Justice Center is the state’s only legal aid organization dedicated to helping people with justice-involvement. Authorized by the Florida Supreme Court, FLJC works to lower the effects of an arrest through free and low-cost legal services, as well as connections to community service providers.

With a mission to empower individuals by providing legal support, community education, and removing barriers to success caused by the criminal justice system, FLJC succeeds in helping thousands of individuals each year.