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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
Newsletter

March 2016

Time For Change: Presenting the Reentry Advocacy Project


Maybe you are tired of hearing taglines that are common this election year. But for the XOffenders Council, it truly is time for change - specifically, a name change. On February 6th, the members of the group spent their Saturday afternoon in a meeting designed to walk through the group’s past, present, and future. By the end of the day there was a consensus for not only the issues the group wants to focus their work on, but for a new name. The Reentry Advocacy Project was adopted unanimously and is a name to watch for as this dynamic group of advocates takes Austin by storm! The group also defined their mission: To foster a community of support and peer mentorship for individuals reentering the community, educate and advise the community on reentry issues, and advocate for community change, system accountability and reduce stigma and systemic barriers for persons with criminal justice involvement.

Announcing the Roundtable's Inaugural Advocacy Fellow: 
Lauren Johnson

 

We are thrilled to announce Lauren Johnson as our inaugural Advocacy Fellow for our new Advocacy Fellowship Program! Lauren will work this year to strengthen and support the work of our Planning Council, Issue Area Groups, and Reentry Advocacy Project. A huge thanks to the The Shield-Ayres Foundation for their generous grant that helped make this new program possible.

Featured Reentry Advocacy Project Member: Doug Smith


What drives your passion and makes you excited to get out of bed in the morning? "Inexplicably, I found a job that allows me to be part of the movement to reform the criminal justice system. I wake up to develop sound policies that will reduce the number of people sent to prison, expand treatment resources and enhance reentry supports."

What words of wisdom do you have for others leaving incarceration? "If you are willing to stay focused on long-term goals, while humbly accepting lower paying jobs, the doors of opportunity will eventually open. Try to avoid getting discouraged by rejection, and be the best employee in jobs that are less than ideal."
 
Read the full interview here

Our Members in the News 


Formerly Incarcerated Individuals Face a Tough Housing Market 

The Austin Chronicle featured an article on the difficulties formerly incarcerated individuals face in Austin's housing market. The article featured RAP members & local advocates Doug Smith and Isa Arizola on the barriers that they have experienced in their search for housing. Read the article here


Alternatives to Jail Time for Non-violent Drug Offenders

As the Texas House Corrections Committee explores incarceration rates for non-violent drug offenses and the cost to the state, Advocacy Fellow Lauren Johnson spoke with KXAN about alternatives to jail time for non-violent drug offenders. Read the interview here
 

Current Reentry News & Resources

 

 : A New Website Released by the CDC 

The new VetoViolence website, which has won 7 awards since 2011, provides interactive and engaging evidence- and practice-based tools, trainings, and resources to help you stop violence-before it happens in your community. It is designed specifically for violence prevention practitioners, including state and local health departments, grantees, program evaluators, technical assistance providers, and decision-makers. Explore VetoViolence here


The Charles Colson Task Force releases new recommendations for Federal Corrections

The Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections has issued six sweeping policy recommendations to reform the federal criminal justice system to improve public safety, increase accountability, and reduce recidivism. While demonstrating that the states have enjoyed less crime and incarceration simultaneously, the report concludes with a call to action for Congress, suggesting that momentum is on the side of reform, and that “wise, cost-effective reforms that promote a safer society” are possible. Read the article here.


Upcoming SAMHSA Webinar: Community Reentry for Justice Involved Individuals

SAMHSA’s Homeless and Housing Resource Network (HHRN) is offering a webinar featuring three presenters who were formerly incarcerated to discuss the rehabilitation programs they took advantage of during their incarceration and upon their release. Presenters will also describe strategies they utilized to overcome the barriers and challenges facing individuals exiting the criminal justice system and returning to communities.

  • Date: Tuesday, March 1, 2016
  • Time: 1:00 – 2:30 PM CST
  • Register here!

New Infographic: Working with Justice Involved Women

 
A new infographic from the National Resource Center on Justice Involved Women brings together key statistics about women in the criminal justice system.

Highlighted statistics:
  • Education: 42% of women in state prisons have not completed high school
  • Employment prior to arrest: 37% earn less than $600 per month
  • Maternal incarceration significantly impacts children: 64% of mothers in state prison lived with at least one of their children just prior to imprisonment 
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