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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

January 2016

News & Updates

Travis County Votes to Save Inmates Money 

The Travis County Commissioners Court voted last month to reduce the fee for inmates at the Travis County Jail on a 20-minute call from $4.65 to $1.65, amounting to a loss of more than $860,000 in revenue annually. The change was in part precipitated by a Federal Communications Commission order issued last year to sharply reduce fees and rates that inmates pay for phone calls, video visitations and other telecom services. The Roundtable's Planning Council member Lauren Johnson was a strong advocate for the issue. Read more on the decision here.

States Push to Reverse Mass Incarceration

As the U.S. crime and incarceration rates fall together, a new report by the Brennan Center for Justice deems mass incarceration to be an ineffective and costly approach to criminal justice. Many states, including Texas, have designed alternative programs and reformed legislation in order to reduce incarceration and recidivism. To incentivize the rest of the country to follow suit, experts are calling for the passage of the Reverse Mass Incarceration Act. The act would provide $20 billion in grant funds over a decade to states that cut their prison populations by 7 percent every three years without seeing an increase in crime. Read the full article here.

Private Sector Push to Aid Formerly Incarcerated

A growing group of business leaders are funding the push to cut prison populations and promote private initiatives to help rehabilitate and employ formerly incarcerated individuals. David Trone, co-founder of Total Wine and More, and his wife are donating $15 million to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to establish the Trone Center for Criminal Justice, which will leverage private-sector partnerships to support city and state level programs focused on effective reentry into the workforce and public policy reform.  Trone cites the Ban the Box movement as an example of what state-level initiatives can accomplish: “Yes, people make mistakes...but if they paid the price and now want to build a better life, why should that mistake have to carry with them the rest of their lives?” Read the full article here.

Defend Yourself From Illegal Background Checks - is a website dedicated to protect and enforce an individual's legal rights to keep one's expunged record from illegally appearing on background checks. The website was created by Hartman King, a formerly incarcerated individual who endured years of legal battles and missed job/housing opportunities all due to illegal background checks on his expunged record. The website features:

'Fix the Maze' - Women in the Criminal Justice System


'Fix the Maze' is a short video animation that uses empirical data to explain how women get into the system, what happens to them and with what consequences for them, their families and society. Drawing from research on criminal justice in both the US and UK, FrameWorks Institute produced the animation as an innovative way to communicate and advocate for gender-responsive, and trauma-informed approaches to the treatment needs of women and girls in institutional settings. Watch the video here