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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

April 2017

Reentry Roundtable Updates

Members in the News

Two Smiths, One Quest

Doug Smith and Reggie Smith didn’t have much in common until they both went to prison. They are now deeply involved in a movement of formerly incarcerated individuals advocating for criminal justice reform.

Recently, the Magazine of the UT School of Social Work, the Utopian, profiled two of our three Planning Council members with the same surname, Reggie Smith and Doug Smith.
Read the Article Here

Upcoming Local Events

Private Prisons are Unconstitutional: A Conversation with John Dacey

The American Constitution Society and the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law are hosting John Dacey to discuss the constitutionality of the private prison system. According to Dacey, the United States and the majority of state governments have created a justice system that promotes incarceration to drive profit. Our society has made it profitable for corporations to incarcerate people, with prisoners calculated as growth commodities on corporate balance sheets. Shareholders are fiscally rewarded when private prison populations increase. This practice, sponsored by government, is inherently flawed and filled with economic conflicts of interest that violate “life and liberty” guarantees in the Constitution of the United States.


Join the Center for Health Empowerment for a Women's Health Open House on April 8th


Thank you to Catalina Casar from the Center for Health Empowerment for joining us at the February Planning Council Meeting. Catalina introduced the Center for Health Empowerment (CHE), a new nonprofit organization with the mission of providing access to high-quality wellness services for underserved populations centered around sexual health and HIV/STD prevention. CHE will be hosting a Women's Health Open House with free manicures for the first fifty people!
Learn More

Save the Date: Upcoming UT Events on Mental Health

Save the date for two upcoming UT events focusing on mental health!

Front Porch Gathering on Health Disparities in Austin and the Impact of Mental Health

UT Opportunity Forum

Funding Opportunities

U.S. Department of Labor Issues Reentry Projects Grant Announcement

The U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration (ETA) plans to award approximately $66 million to fund Reentry Projects which provide the opportunity for organizations to build customized projects built on evidence-based and informed interventions or promising practices that will lead to improved employment outcomes for either young adults between the ages of 18 to 24 who have been involved in either the juvenile or adult justice system or adults ages 25 or older who have been incarcerated in the adult criminal justice system and released from prison or jail within 180 days. All participants must reside in high-poverty, high-crime communities.

Applicants must demonstrate evidence-based and informed interventions or promising practices that lead to increased employment outcomes for this population in their selected geographic area and in framing their goals and objectives to deal with this issue. The application deadline is April 27th.
More Information

Right of Return Fellowship for Formerly Incarcerated Artists


The Soze Agency is proud to announce the first year of the Right of Return USA Fellowship, funded by Open Philanthropy. This fellowship program will invest in formerly incarcerated artists to create original works that can further criminal justice reform in partnership with advocates and organizers. The first cohort will include five artists with diverse backgrounds, who will each receive a $10,000 prize, plus $10,000 for materials and production.

Artists as culture makers have a critical role to play in transforming society into one that is more just, and the push to end mass incarceration is no exception. Artists distill complex issues and emotions, helping us make sense of the world around us. By connecting their audiences to vivid expressions of truth, such as the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement, they inspire us to urgent action. Artists are organizers, connecting people together and building power to reimagine the world.

While many artists have explored the issue of mass incarceration, formerly incarcerated artists have an especially important role in exploring this issue. Speaking from their own life stories, these artists powerfully ground their audiences in the experience of incarceration, helping us to break through the wall of ignorance and shame that often disconnects the public from action. As such, they are critical strategic partners in efforts to challenge mass incarceration at all levels. The Right to Return project hopes that this fellowship will not only amplify the work of five formerly incarcerated artists, but will also help to build a wave of interest in the vision of formerly incarcerated artists for America after mass incarceration.

The Right of Return project encourages formerly incarcerated artists of all disciplines who seek to challenge mass incarceration through their creative practice -- including visual, performing, media, design, and other creative professions – to apply for the fellowship. The deadline to apply is April 21, 2017.

More Information & Application

Reentry News

Reports on Women and Incarceration

Women in jail are the fastest growing correctional population in the country—increasing 14-fold between 1970 and 2014. Two recent reports were released pertaining to women and incarceration. "Overlooked: Women and Jails in an Era of Reform," by the Vera Institute of Justice, examines existing research on women in jail in order to begin to reframe the conversation to include them. It offers a portrait of women in jail, explores how jail can deepen the societal disadvantages they face, and provides insight into what drives women’s incarceration and ways to reverse the trend.

"Women in Prison: Should They Be Treated Differently than Men?" is a report that discusses how mandatory sentences for drug offenses enacted during the 1980s and 1990s have hit women particularly hard. Reformers hope states' recent efforts to reduce prison populations and spend more on drug treatment will help women. But they say women still remain an afterthought in the penal system. For example, reformers say courts and prisons rarely recognize women's responsibility as mothers or the factors underlying their participation in crime, such as domestic abuse. The justice system, women's advocates say, needs to think creatively about how to help female prisoners. Meanwhile, in the juvenile system, girls often receive harsher punishments than boys who commit similar offenses.

Jail Reform in New York City

This month, New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio announced that the City's jail population has fallen by 18 percent over the last three years. The Center for Court Innovation has produced a pair of in-depth analyses of New York City’s criminal justice system. Commissioned by the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, these reports make a practical, data-driven case for how the city’s historically low jail population can be further reduced.

"Jail in New York City: Evidence-Based Opportunities for Reform" traces the path from arrest to sentencing. Among other things, it establishes that many defendants who could be safely released before trial are instead being detained, and that the system is making excessive use of short-term jail sentences. The Center’s research director, Michael Rempel, discusses the report’s major findings in a new episode of their podcast, New Thinking.

The other report, "Navigating the Bail Payment System", documents the difficulties of simply paying bail and how this leads to unnecessary jail stays.

These reports offer concrete measures to meaningfully reduce the city’s jail population. They also represent the work of our research department at its best: practical, analytical, and focused on uncovering unexploited opportunities for reform.

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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · 3308 Treadsoft Cove · Austin, TX 78748 · USA

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