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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
Newsletter

January 2018

Roundtable News

Applications for the Roundtable Advocacy Fellowship Program Are Due January 12!

 
The Roundtable is now accepting applications for the Advocacy Fellowship Program. This is a part-time, contracted position for persons with lived experience navigating the criminal justice system and reentering the community. The Roundtable anticipates having two Fellows in 2018.

The goals of the Fellowship program are two-fold:
  1. to enhance the capacity of the Roundtable to address the challenges of reentry and reintegration and support social justice in our community, and
  2. to develop the leadership capacity of the fellow by providing opportunities and mentorship to enhance their professional skills such as research, writing, and coordinating, planning, and leading activities.
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.
 

Join the Planning Council  This Month to Hear Our Plans for Reentry Month in April


The Planning Council meets monthly from 12:30-2 p.m. at ECHO (300 E. Highland Mall Blvd., 2nd Floor Meeting Space). Join us on Monday, January 8 to hear more about our plans for National Reentry Month in April and to learn more about how your contributions can help strengthen our community.

State News

Texas Health and Human Services Accepting Comments on Jail-Based Competency Restoration Rules

Texas Health and Human Services stakeholders are invited to comment on the following draft rules. 
  • 25 TAC, Part 1, Chapter 416, Subchapter C, Jail-Based Competency Restoration Program
The comment period ends January 5, 2018. Visit the HHS Rulemaking website for more information. Questions can be emailed to Soila Villarreal.

Fair Chance Hiring Updates

Arizona Becomes 30th State to Ban the Box

 
In 2017, Arizona joined Kentucky, Indiana, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Utah in adopting policies remove the conviction history question on a job application and to delay inquiries into job applicants’ records until later in the hiring process. That brings the total to 30 states that have adopted these policies for public-sector job openings.  

You can read more about the executive order signed by Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey here, and for more information about the other states, counties, and cities that are adopting these policies, click here.

As ‘Ban the Box’ Spreads, Private Employers Still Have Questions


The New York Times reports the following: Advocates acknowledge that, despite the momentum behind fair-chance hiring, there are hurdles beyond the expected concerns about public safety and many of the laws apply only to the public sector.

But big cities including Philadelphia and Los Angeles now have strict ordinances for private businesses, and recently, California became the 10th state to make banning the box, and in some cases banning any discussion of past criminal infractions during job interviews, a requirement for private businesses, too. The others are Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.
 

Lessons Learned: Hiring formerly incarcerated individuals pay off, but the workers need help


Uplift Solutions offers job training and placement opportunities to formerly incarcerated individuals. This program has helped improve the lives of its graduates while proving to be of value to employers. You can read more about this program in Philadelphia is positively impacting the community in this article from The Inquirer.

National News, Updates & Research

Bipartisan Criminal Justice Reform Legislation Introduced

 
Reps. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Jason Lewis (R-MN) recently introduced the SAFE Justice Act, which proposes changes to the federal criminal code and prison system. These changes include expanding funding for community policing and crime prevention initiatives, increasing the use of sentencing alternatives (such as probation), and reforming mandatory minimum sentences. The bipartisan measure is receiving support from a wide range of advocacy and political groups.
You can read more about the proposed legislation here.

Incarceration Rates Increasing in Smaller Cities, Towns, and Rural Areas

New Research Examines Why


New research from the Vera Institute of Justice, In Our Backyards, examines the shifting geography of mass incarceration in the United States. Be sure to check out the website for full details, including an informative video and an interactive map.

Equal Rights Center (ERC) Files Lawsuit Against National Housing Provider Alleging Illegal Race and National Origin Discrimination


Last month, the ERC filed a lawsuit that alleges Mid-America Apartments (MAA) maintained and enforced a criminal records screening policy that categorically barred an untold number of individuals with criminal records from living at their properties in violation of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. 

The lawsuit claims that MAA’s screening policy had an illegal and disproportionate effect of African American and Latino applicants without a substantial, legitimate business justification. Click here to read the ERC’s press release concerning the lawsuit.
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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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