RoShawn Evans defied the odds. He was once jailed, but through strength and perseverance he emerged from the corrections system ready to make a change in the world.
And he’s doing just that thanks to his education at the University of Houston-Downtown. In fact, Evans was recently named UHD’s Political Science Student of the Year.
“I was in class, and my phone started blowing up,” he said. “People were texting me telling me I received this award. It was quite a surprise, and I am honored to be recognized for my work at UHD.”
While his academic performance is certainly noteworthy, it is Evans’ contributions to the community that are helping so many Houstonians overcome the same challenges he once faced.
Evans is co-founder of the nonprofit organization Pure Justice. The group advocates for criminal justice reform and supports communities that are at risk for incarceration. The group includes families of those who are behind bars and individuals who may have served time under questionable circumstances or were wrongly convicted. Among its initiatives are workshops addressing citizens’ rights and how state and local governments are structured. It also assists with legal counsel and support for community members who might not be able to afford the services of a lawyer.
“We work to bring fairness and equity to the criminal justice system, as well as create economic opportunity for marginalized groups,” Evans said. “We also empower our group’s members to advocate for themselves … whether it’s through educational opportunities or other means.”
The organization has partnered with other community organizations for events in Houston, and Evans emphasizes the need for groups like Pure Justice here in Houston. Still, the road to start this local nonprofit was one filled with physical and emotional challenges.
Evans documents his trials with the criminal justice system in his book “Stolen Identity – 1953521.” The book follows his journey from being convicted to his emergence from incarceration with a mission to help others who have been in the same situation.
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