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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
Newsletter

January 2017

Roundtable News & Updates 

Roundtable Accepting Advocacy Fellowship Applications Through January 11th


In 2016, with the support of Shield-Ayres Foundation, the Roundtable launched an Advocacy Fellowship Program for formerly incarcerated persons with lived experience navigating the criminal justice system and reentering the community. An additional Fellow will increase the capacity of the Roundtable to organize and lead advocacy work of the Planning Council, focusing on our three key strategic areas: housing, employment, and behavioral health services. The Fellows will jointly support the Reentry Advocacy Project (RAP) to engage formerly incarcerated men and women in the community and will serve as consumer advocates on various local and state task forces and initiatives. Applications are due January 11th, 2017. 
Click Here for More Information About the Fellowship and to Apply

Reggie Smith Joins Mayor's Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities


Planning Council Member and RAP Member Reggie Smith has been invited to participate in Mayor Steve Adler’s Task Force on Institutional Racism & Systemic Inequities core team and on the Criminal & Civil Justice working group. The Mayor’s Task Force, led by Task Force Co-Chairs Dr. Colette Pierce Burnette, President & CEO of Huston-Tillotson University, and Dr. Paul Cruz, Superintendent of the Austin Independent School District, will develop recommendations to dismantle institutional racism and systemic inequities. The Criminal & Civil Justice working group’s charge is to identify, acknowledge, and dismantle institutional racism that results in disparities in treatment. Further, the Criminal & Civil Justice Committee is charged with developing comprehensive and sustainable strategies that will transform community and law enforcement relationships and foster mutual respect. For more information on the Task Force, visit:

Local Events & News 

Make Plans to Attend the 7th Annual Statewide Reentry Conference



Travis County will be hosting the 7th Annual Statewide Reentry Conference. The event will be an opportunity for planners, administrators, service providers, and policy makers to discuss reentry initiatives, programs, and obstacles on local and statewide levels. Topics for discussion include pretrial services, supervision, veterans services, and access to housing. The Keynote Speakers are State Representative Eddie Rodriguez and Judge Sarah Eckhardt. For a full list of sessions and the complete schedule click here

Date: Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Time: 9:00am - 4:30pm
Location: Texas State Capitol - Auditorium & Extension
Cost: Free
Register Here

Austin’s Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance Facing Opposition During Legislative Session


Representative Paul Workman of Austin filed HB 577, a bill that would both prevent and roll back local Fair Chance Hiring measures like the one passed by the Austin City Council in March. The Roundtable was instrumental in supporting the passage of Austin’s fair chance hiring ordinance and will be closely monitoring HB 577 and other related legislation during the 85th legislative session. For more information visit: 

Newly Released Articles & Reports on Reentry 

Brennan Center for Justice Releases Report: How Many Americans Are Unnecessarily Incarcerated?



Nearly 40 percent of the U.S. prison population — 576,000 people — are behind bars with no compelling public safety reason, according to a new report from the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. The first-of-its-kind analysis provides a blueprint for how the country can drastically cut its prison population while still keeping crime rates near historic lows.
Click Here to Read the Full Report

New Bill Would “Ban the Box on Housing Applications” in DC



A bill that would require landlords to extend a conditional housing offer before asking about the applicant’s prior convictions has advanced out of committee in the Washington, DC, City Council. With 60,000 residents in the District having a criminal record and 8,000 more residents being released from correctional institutions each year, many housing applications could otherwise be quickly rejected, fueling housing instability.

Under this bill, after a housing offer is extended, a landlord can inquire about convictions that would be pertinent to the tenancy, such as fraud, assault, and violent crimes. The landlord may rescind a housing offer if there is a “substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory” reason related to the applicant’s criminal history. Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said of the bill, “Folks who have records are generally not given the same consideration in employment or housing. This is a very important step that is designed to address that—not to give them any more consideration than anyone else, but to level the playing field.”

But others on the council, including Councilwoman Mary Cheh, oppose the bill, citing that the complexity of the law could lead to unintended consequences. McDuffie hopes to pass the bill before the entire council before the end of the legislative session, becoming one of just a few cities that enforce such antidiscriminatory measures. 
Read More Here

The New Yorker Addresses Building a Prison-to-School Pipeline



The New Yorker recently released an article about the School-to-Prison Pipeline... and the reverse! The article features formerly incarcerated undergrads who started a group on campus to offer mentoring, support, and advocacy to other onetime inmates.
Read the Article Here

Helping Ex-Inmates Stay Out of The ER Brings Multiple Benefits


Being in jail is not healthy. But for a lot of people, the best health care they'll receive is what they get behind bars. About 40 percent of inmates are newly diagnosed with a chronic medical condition while incarcerated. Outside, many only interact with doctors when they're in the emergency room. And when they are released, as millions are each year, they enter a risky time, says Dr. Emily Wang, a primary care doctor with the Yale University School of Medicine.

"If there is any one single thing in the literature that is compelling, it's that there's a significantly higher risk of dying in the first two weeks following release from a correctional facility," she says.
Find out More Here
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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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