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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

April 2016

Fair Chance: City Council Passed Ordinance to Delay Criminal Background Checks

City Council passed the Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance on March 24th, meant to give those with a criminal history a better chance of landing a job. The ordinance delays most private-sector employers in Austin from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until they're well into the hiring process. Council Member Greg Casar, who sponsored the ordinance, told the group he will always remember that Thursday night at 10:02. "The moment", he said, "that paves the way for people to have a second chance to move on with their lives and put food on the table." When the ordinance passed, supporters erupted into cheers, and even burst into tears, hugging and taking pictures. Read the full article here. 

Featured Reentry Advocacy Project  Member: Lewis Conway Jr.


Name: Lewis Conway Jr.
Three words that describe you: Blessed, grateful and appreciative.
What are the top challenges that you faced when reentering? The top challenges I faced were employment and a lost sense of identity.
What resources have you found most helpful for reentering? The best resource I was able to discover that assisted me the most with my reentry was entrepreneurship and my willingness to learn. From day one there was no ‘systemic’ assistance or guidance, only the threat of re-incarceration if I didn’t find a way to employ myself. I created businesses and relationships for the first 12 years of my freedom solely to stay out of prison; now I do it to create employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for others that are forced to take an alternative track towards their success.

Save the Date: National Reentry Week April 24th - April 30th

The Justice Department is designating the week of April 24-30, 2016, as National Reentry Week. During this week, the Bureau of Prisons will coordinate reentry events at their facilities across the country — from job fairs, to practice interviews, to mentorship programs, to events for children of incarcerated parents — designed to help prepare inmates for release. Each U.S. Attorney’s Office will coordinate reentry events, including meetings between local reentry stakeholders, reentry court proceedings, employer roundtables and other events designed to raise awareness about the importance of reentry work. Federal partners and grantees will work closely with stakeholders like federal defenders, legal aid providers, and other partners across the country to increase the impact of this effort. 

Is your organization/agency planning any activities for National Reentry Week? If so, please let us know!

Community Events Launch for New Austin Housing Plan housing prices continuing to rise at an alarming rate, Austin needs a strategic housing plan to meet the needs of people who call Austin home. The City of Austin Neighborhood Housing and Community Development Office is developing an Austin Housing Plan that will address these topics and wants your input:

(1) How might we ensure our children can afford to live in Austin?
(2) Where should Austinites who work hard – cooking food, watching your children, and caring for the sick – be able to afford to live?
(3) The cost of housing is inter-connected with City decisions around job access, parking, permitting, and housing types allowed.

For City leaders, doing nothing different is not an option. So, which changes can you live with?

Events take place from March 29th to April 28th. See this map of meeting locations and find one near you. These are come-and-go events. You can stop by at any time.

Reentry Event April 8th: Smart Decarceration & Re-entry   What does Leadership Look Like?

Several local coalitions sponsor this important event about moving criminal justice reform forward. A/TCRRT Planning Council members Laura Sovine and Doug Smith will be panelists. Don't forget to register for this dynamic presentation and panel discussion!
Keynote: Glenn Martin, Founder of JustLeadershipUSA, National Leader, and Criminal Justice Reform Advocate.
Date: April 8th, 2016 
Time: 6:00pm - 9:30pm 
Location: Utopia Theater 

Current Reentry News & Resources


Higher Education for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals  

The Education from the Inside Out Coalition (EIO), led by the College and Community Fellowship, JustLeadershipUSA, and the Center for Community Alternatives, is a nonpartisan collaborative of advocates and organizations seeking to remove barriers to higher education facing currently and formerly incarcerated people. Providing higher education to those with criminal justice involvement is one of the best ways to reduce recidivism, increase employment, and strengthen underserved communities.

Texas County Jails Go Three Months without a Suicide

Three months after Texas jailers began screening inmates with a new mental health screening form, the state has yet to experience a jail suicide in one of its 242 county jails. "It's a pretty big accomplishment, though not necessarily on our part," said Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, acknowledging that more work remains. "We're still monitoring this, because there are so many factors we have to look at and determine what's working and what needs to be tweaked," he said. Read the full article here

Welcome to New Planning Council Members: Kimberly Pierce and Doug Smith


The Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable is happy to announce that it has welcomed two new members onto the Planning Council.

Douglas Smith joins from The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition. Doug brings a unique perspective to criminal justice issues. In addition to his policy and social work experience, he also served nearly six years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for crimes committed as a direct outcome of addiction. While incarcerated, he was a Peer Educator, helping to change the culture of violence inside prison. Doug’s voice is critical to the discussion of strategies to address substance abuse to avoid incarceration, conditions of confinement, and reentry issues for formerly incarcerated individuals.

Kimberly Pierce joins from Travis County Justice Planning. The mission of the Justice Planning Department (JP) is to support the Travis County Commissioners Court and key stakeholders by providing quality data analysis and planning, implementing, and sustaining county-wide initiatives for the enhancement of public safety and reduction in crime. JP's vision is to make Travis County a safer, more engaged community by facilitating information exchange, promoting innovative justice policies and practices, and serving individuals who are involved in or at risk of becoming involved in the justice system.

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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable · Palm Square · 100 North Interstate 35 · Austin, TX 78701 · USA

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