'The Wire' Actor Michael K. Williams Puts Star Power Behind Prisoner Reentry Initiative

TapInto.net's Mark J. Bonamo reports

NEWARK, NJ — When Michael K. Williams played the legendary character of Omar Little on the well-known TV show "The Wire," Omar had a famous line: "You come at the king, you best not miss."

When Williams came to Newark earlier this month to talk about the challenges faced by former prisoners seeking to re-enter society, one of the best traits of Omar Little came to life. The real-time Williams came armed with double-barreled words of hope, not with Omar's trusty shotgun. But just like Omar, Williams's weapon of choice did not miss. 

"We're speaking about some people getting a second chance. But there's a lot of people out there, including our youth, that's never gotten a first chance," Williams said as he addressed a mesmerized audience at the Newark office of the non-profit New Jersey Reentry Corporation (NJRC). "What I can do is I can go on them corners, and grab me up somebody, as say 'Brother, what you doing today?' I mentor, and I don't do it by myself. I get my brothers within my circle, and we're putting the wrap around someone. We have to be the wrap around. I'm not waiting for anybody else to be the wrap around my children."

Williams' appearance at the recent event, sponsored by the NJRC, an organization led by former Democratic New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey, marked the launch of an Ambassador program that will use a similar Columbia University program as a model.

The NJRC Ambassador program has three prime goals. The ambassadors will serve as points of contact and referral sources for families and their loved ones suffering from the negative impact of addiction and incarceration - including providing pathways to financial resources and programs to ease the reentry process. The ambassadors will also have an advocacy role, personally promoting ex-prisoners with law enforcement, medical and mental health providers, as well as the business community, as they get jobs and fully re-enter the regular personal and professional lives that those who have never been in jail often take for granted. Finally, the NJRC Ambassadors will serve as spokespersons to the public, the media, and members of the government. 

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