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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

December 2015

City of Austin Fair Change Hiring Ordinance Goes to Full Council for a Vote


After a 3-to-1 vote, the Economic Opportunity Committee voted to move forward with drafting a fair chance hiring ordinance. If the ordinance wins full Council approval, employers with 10 or more employees would only be able to inquire about an applicant's criminal history once a written or verbal conditional offer of employment is made. Read the full story here.

Our Members in the News

Advocates Want Fair Hiring & Housing for People with a Criminal Record - In this KXAN story, members of the XOffenders' Council speak to the importance of increasing accessibility to housing and jobs for reducing recidivism. 

Fair Chance Advocate Tells Her Story - Susannah Bannon, fair chance advocate and XOffenders' Council member, shares her story in this Austin Monitor article. “It’s the aim of my work and my colleagues’ work to change the narrative about what it means to have been involved in the criminal justice system, and to put people's minds at ease..."

Life Outside the Box - Fellow XOffenders' Council member and advocate Jacqueline Conn shares her story in this Texas Observer article. "Jacqueline...immersed herself in academics and community service after a conviction for aggravated assault more than a decade ago. Now, she’s a leader in Austin’s “ban the box” movement, advocating for hiring practices that give people like her an opportunity to put their pasts behind them."

Fair Chance Hiring Expands Workforce; Improves Public Safety - XOffenders' Council member Doug Smith published an editorial in the Statesman highlighting the benefits of a fair chance hiring ordinance for employers, individuals, and the community at large.

 Travis County Funds In-Person Visitation in 2016 Budget 

In September, the Travis County Commissioners Court approved a $657,000 measure to reinstate in-person visitation at the County's downtown jail and correctional complex in Del Valle.

This measure will override a previous Texas Commission on Jail Standards ruling, which granted Travis County exemption from offering in-person visitation as an option for inmates, citing that the County had already expended significant funds in implementing a video-only system. But advocacy groups 
brought forth information to the County that questioned the Commission's decision.  This put pressure on the County Commissioners Court and the Travis County Sheriff's Office to devise a budget-neutral solution, since the county voted last month against a budget increase in favor of lowering the tax rate. Ultimately, the Sheriff's Office answered the call by making adjustments to its budget, redistributing allocated monies towards the visitation plan. The budget measure was approved by the County Commissioners Court just before they adopted the $951 million budget.

A huge
 THANK YOU to the Travis County Sheriff's Office for engaging in dialogue with the Roundtable to update this policy, and to Grassroots Leadership, Lauren Johnson, the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and Jorge Renaud for their tireless advocacy efforts.
Presenting the Roundtable's 2016 Leadership!

Planning Council Chair
Sarah Pahl Worthington, MSSW, JD

Planning Council Vice Chair
Helen Gaebler, JD
UT School of Law

Executive Committee 
XOffenders' Council Representative

Darwin Hamilton
Community Representative

Planning Council Past Chair 
Laura Sovine, LMSW-AP
Travis Co. Health & Human/Veterans Services
Pictured: Past Chair Laura Sovine and
2016 Chair Sarah Pahl Worthington

Let us recognize Laura Sovine for her inspiring leadership to the Roundtable this past year. Thank you for work and continued dedication to effective reentry in our community!

Featured XOffenders’ Council Member

Name: Reginald D. Smith, but everyone calls me Reggie.

What accomplishments is he most proud of?

"Ten years of sobriety, rebuilding my relationship with family and friends, getting accepted to The University of Texas School of Social Work and having the privilege to participate on the XOffenders’ Council with some truly outstanding peers."

Read the full interview here

The Roundtable's 2015 Annual Report

2015 has been a year of momentum and progress for the Roundtable. We are excited to present our 2015 Annual Report highlighting the progress we’ve made on our strategic plan, our accomplishments, and a profile of our members this year! Click the image to view the full report!

Obama Bans the Box

President Obama announced a new order earlier this month that will "ban the box" for federal employees. The executive order will take immediate effect, and mandate that the federal government’s human resources department delay inquiries into criminal history until later in the hiring process. Read the full article.

Nearly 600 Inmates Return to Texas Communities

October 30, 2015 marked the beginning of the largest one-time prison release in U.S. history, with nearly 6,000 non-violent drug offenders re-entering into their communities; of that number, 578 are returning to Texas communities. The Roundtable's Chair Sarah Pahl Worthington spoke to KXAN on the importance of bolstering resources and support for individuals re-entering. “If we continue to screen them out from housing and employment, then we are contributing to the problem.” Read the full story.
News and Resources
Don’t miss a beat! Check out the Roundtable’s Publications & Policy Information page to get the latest updates on the issue areas you care about.