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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

February 2016

Recap of the Statewide Reentry Conference

The 6th Annual Statewide Reentry Conference was held on Wednesday, January 20th at the Texas Capitol. Planning Council Members participated in a variety of sessions, including an encore panel discussing Darius Clark Monroe’s film Evolution of a Criminal screened by the Roundtable in partnership with the Austin Film Society in August 2015. Check the Roundtable Twitter feed @ATCReentry for live tweets from the “New Legislation in Criminal Justice and Reeentry” and “Housing: Challenges and Solutions” panels. Thanks to Travis County Justice Planning for supporting the conference!

UT Law School's Mithoff Pro Bono Program Accepting Eligible Applicants for Pro-Bono Expunctions

The Texas Law Expunction Project, an experiential learning program and pro bono legal clinic within the UT School of Law's Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program, has opened its intake window for Spring 2016. Individuals interested in obtaining help with their criminal records (expunction or sealing) can receive free legal assistance by applying to participate in this program. Learn more about the program, and share with your networks with this downloadable flyer.

How to Apply
  1. Complete the Survey - Interested individuals should complete this survey as soon as possible to be able to participate in the Project's next intake sessions on Feb. 9th & 27th*
  2. Contact the Project - Visit Texas Law Expunction Project or call 512-232-1472.
  3. Gather required documentation
  4. Attend an In-take Session

*Please note: Sending your information does not guarantee that the Expunction Project will be able to assist you. Intake sessions are held in February and September.

Reentry in the News

Travis County Jail Faces Growing Mental Health Crisis

Earlier this month, a broad coalition of county officials and community stakeholders delivered a briefing to the Travis County Commissioners Court regarding the astonishing rise in the number of inmates dealing with mental health issues in the past decade. While the Sheriff's Office will have to bolster mental health staff to meet the growing demand, others are contemplating how to make existing diversion efforts, such as health services and re-entry programs, more effective. Read the full story here.

Obama Raises Criminal Justice Reform Stakes in State of the Union

During his State of the Union address earlier this month, President Obama brought criminal justice reform to the forefront for American viewers, citing it as a "bipartisan priority". Drug policy advocates are hoping the President's endorsement of such reform will encourage legislation, like the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act, which would reduce mandatory minimums for drug offenses, to pass. Read more about congressional progress on the act here.

Formerly Incarcerated Get a Second Chance at Public Housing

Experimental programs in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Akron, Ohio, are testing the long-held federal prohibition from public housing of many with criminal records. The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and a group of nonprofit partners have developed the NYCHA Family Reentry Pilot, a pilot program that will reunite 150 eligible formerly incarcerated individuals with their families in public housing, while providing them with case management services, and an opportunity to earn a spot on the lease if they are incident-free for two years. Read more about the implementation of the pilot here

Employment Consequences of a Criminal Record Can Last a Lifetime

"The existence of an entire class of people who are unemployed or underemployed because of a criminal record is bad news for the economy and society." Mark L. O'Brien is a Georgetown law graduate, father, and formerly incarcerated individual. After serving a jail sentence for the aftermath of a drunk driving accident, O'Brien shares his personal experiences of living with a criminal record and makes the case for fair hiring policies. Read his story here.

New Report: TDCJ Reentry and Parole Referral Report

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) Reentry and Integration Division and the Parole Division together have released their annual report detailing certain program referrals for offenders under supervision. The report reflects referrals for employment, housing, medical care, treatment for substance abuse and/or mental illness, education, veterans services, and basic needs as well as other types of information to include available resources, areas where resources were not available and outcomes of referrals. Also included is data regarding reentry coordinator training and parole officer training. Access the full report here.