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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
Newsletter

February 2017

Local Reentry News

UT Expunction Clinic Accepting New Applications 

 The UT Law School Expunction Project's Spring Intake Sessions have been announced. The Expunction Project evaluates criminal records to determine if a person is eligible to expunge (destroy) or seal (limit access to) records of an arrest, and is administered by the Mithoff Pro Bono Program at the University of Texas School of Law. Records that can be expunged are: Arrests for crimes that were never charged, criminal charges that were dismissed, and certain misdemeanor offenses committed as a juvenile or minor (Class C tickets). Felonies cannot be expunged. 

Intake Sessions
When: Monday, February 13th 6:00pm - 8:00pm 
When: Tuesday, February 21st 6:00pm - 8:00pm 

Where: The Travis County Law Library - 314 W. 11th Street

Reminders: Applicants must submit a copy of their DPS criminal history report before their intake session and register ahead of time. 

Applicants may obtain the criminal history report in Austin at The Department of Public Safety 108 Denson Drive ($25 card or money order). They will be fingerprinted and the report will be mailed, usually within 7-10 days.  

Applicants may also bring court records to assist in determining eligibility for assistance.  

Online Intake Session Registration Now Available!

Integral Care Hosts Community Forum: Mental Health & Public Safety Working Together 


Austin Travis County Integral Care invites community members to a community forum on the intersection of Mental Health and Public Safety. Travis County Sheriff's Office, Austin Police Department and Integral Care will share their perspectives on responding to and working with individuals living with mental health issues. 
 
The Austin Travis County community is making significant strides in diverting individuals from criminal justice involvement and on ensuring they are connected to services as quickly as possible. Join the forum to hear from Sheriff Sally Hernandez, Interim Police Chief Brian Manley and Integral Care staff on our collaborations and new initiatives.

Date: Tuesday February 28, 2017
Time: 1:00pm - 2:30pm
Location: Palmer Events Center - 900 Barton Springs Rd
Register Today!

Texas 85th Legislative Session: Bills of Interest 


The following bills are related to reentry and may be of interest in the upcoming legislative session: 

SB 485
Relating to the creation of the office of independent oversight ombudsman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

HB 1041
Relating to the review of privately operated residential facilities for persons released on parole or to mandatory supervision.

HB 1046
Relating to a veterans coordinator for the community justice assistance division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Click Here for More Information

National Opportunities & Reports 

Bureau of Justice Assistance Accepting Letters of Interest to Support the Hiring of People with Criminal Records: Due February 2nd!



The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), through its administration of the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), is inviting letters of interest from organizations that are interested in providing technical assistance to employers to support the hiring of people with criminal records.

BJA is dedicating $500,000 over the course of one year to support the delivery of technical assistance to employers. For the purpose of this project, technical assistance includes creating model hiring and human resource practices and policies; promoting peer learning opportunities through conferences, meetings, and webinars; and developing best or promising practices to track and compare data on employees with and without criminal records.

Letters of interest—no longer than four pages— should describe interested organizations’ experience with the following: 
  • Designing and implementing a strategy to engage employers in hiring people with criminal records
  • Working with community organizations, including those that provide services for or include representation of people with criminal records
  • Convening an advisory group to support project goals, including employer-focused technical assistance and the development of best practices
  • Providing technical assistance or training to other internal and external stakeholders
  • Any examples of employer-focused technical assistance that are relevant to the proposed project.
Letters of interest should be sent to sakhter@csg.org.
Click Here for More Information

US Department of Labor Funds New Project:
The National Clean Slate Clearinghouse


The US Department of Labor has funded a new project, the National Clean Slate Clearinghouse. The Clearinghouse’s mission is to foster record-clearing of criminal records around the country. The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) is leading the project and is preparing many resources, including state-specific information about record-clearing that will be made available on a powerful new website. Community Legal Services (CLS), is the project’s liaison to the legal aid, defender, non-profit and pro bono communities.

CLS will work with lawyers around the country to encourage development of new record-clearing practices and foster those that already exist. Potential projects include:
  • Updating and expanding a list of programs around the country performing expungement, sealing and other record-clearing work.
  • An expungement clinic toolkit to help advocates launch or expand their expungement practices.
  • Periodic news and issue briefs.
  • Technical assistance upon request.
  • To the extent possible, circulate funding opportunities.
  • Developing for a few states a module that works with LegalServer software to identify clients who come to legal aid with other problems who might qualify for record-clearing.
Click Here for More Information

Justice Department Releases Report on Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work

The Justice Department released a comprehensive report that provides an overview of the Civil Rights Division’s police reform work under Section 14141 of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 which allows the Justice Department to review the practices of law enforcement agencies that may be violating people's federal rights. The report, “The Civil Rights Division’s Pattern and Practice Police Reform Work: 1994-Present,” is designed to serve as a resource for local law enforcement agencies and communities by making the division’s police reform work more accessible and transparent. It examines a range of topics, including the history and purpose of Section 14141, initiation and methodology of pattern-or-practice investigations, negotiation of reform agreements, the current reform model and its rationale, conclusion of agreements and the impact of pattern-or-practice enforcement on police reform and community-police trust. To supplement the report, the division also published an interactive Police Reform Finder, which allows users to search how reform agreements have addressed specific kinds of policing issues.

Click Here to Read the Full Report

FrameWorks Institute Offers New Insight:
Criminal Justice Communications


The FrameWorks Institute researched ways to effectively communicate to the public about the need to reform the criminal justice system. Public assumptions about who commits crimes, why, and what to do about it often block advocates' assertions about the benefits of more rehabilitative approaches. One of the biggest challenges for advocates is helping people see the role of systems and policies in shaping public safety. The Justice Maze metaphor allows people to maintain to a role for individual agency but clarifies how contexts shape choices, conscribe behaviors, and affect individual outcomes. Using tools that give people practice thinking about the role of systems in shaping outcomes may help increase public awareness. 
Learn More Here!

Nashville Nonprofit Helps Former Offenders with Housing and Jobs


After struggling to help people recently released from prison find stable housing in the private market, Nashville nonprofit Project Return developed a program to house and support this at-risk population. With help from a $284,000 grant from the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), Project Return plans to buy and redevelop 12 units in 2017 to rent them exclusively to previously incarcerated individuals who have completed an employment program that the nonprofit also runs. In addition to housing and workforce training, Project Return offers mentoring, literacy training, and direct employment by hiring its participants to help rehabilitate properties. THDA director Ralph Perrey notes that “this pilot program has great promise to address a serious concern about the lack of housing options for people who have paid their debt to society and sincerely want to find a better path for themselves.”

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