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Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable
Quarterly Newsletter

June 2015

Save the Date: Screening and Director Q&A for Evolution of a Criminal

Director Darius Clark Monroe will join us for a screening of his critically acclaimed documentary Evolution of a Criminal, in which Monroe explores race, class, education, and the prison system through the aftermath of a bank robbery he was involved in at the age of 16.

Event will take place on August 12th, 7:30pm at the Marchesa Theater at Lincoln Villageand will include a Q&A with the director and local panelists. 

 
Register for the event here.

City of Austin Action on Fair Chance Hiring


On May 21st, the Austin City Council passed a resolution to consider requiring private employers in Austin to follow fair chance hiring practices. Council Member Greg Casar introduced the item, co-sponsored by Mayor Steve Adler, Mayor Pro Tem Kathie Tovo and Council Member Ora Houston. The resolution directs the City Manager to provide staff support for a stakeholder process to develop language for potential policies to promote delaying inquiry into conviction history until later in the employment hiring process for private-sector employers. The resolution also directs the stakeholder group to consider the National Employment Law Project recommended ordinance language as a baseline draft for a citywide fair chance policy, and to consider policy options for employers contracting with the City and employers participating under a Chapter 380 Economic Development Agreement.

The Roundtable is listed as a member of the proposed stakeholder group in the resolution, along with a number of other area business associations, service providers and advocacy groups. The Roundtable was a key partner in community conversations in 2007/2008 that led to Travis County, and later the City of Austin, changing their employment applications so that job applicants no longer have to disclose their criminal history during the initial phase of the employment application process. We are proud that our city and county are leaders on this issue. Now is the time to discuss how our community can continue to set the bar even higher in order to support more stable families, safer communities and less public assistance debt to taxpayers. 

HHS Cross-Systems Summit

 
  • When: August 20-21, 2015
  • Where: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Austin, 6505 IH-35 North 
  • Details: Hosted by the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, the Cross-Systems Summit will focus on collaborating across systems to address racial inequities and how service delivery in health and human services, education, juvenile justice, housing, disability, and other areas affect outcomes. The summit will feature breakout sessions both days, as well as speakers Rinku Sen, Tunette Powell, and Captain James Dickens, among others. Continuing education credit for multiple disciplines will be provided for this event. The summit is free and open to the public; registration information soon to follow.
  • For questions, please contact Melonee.Carter@hhsc.state.tx.us 

In the Media: Travis County Initiative to Help Inmates with Mental Illness


The Travis County Sheriff's Office and Austin Travis County Integral Care were selected to participate in the National Health Justice Learning Collaborative, a collaboration between the National Council for Behavioral Health and the National Sheriff’s Association aimed at improving access to behavioral healthcare for incarcerated individuals and improving retention in care for those released from jail. Travis County was selected as one of three counties in the country to participate.
Travis County's initiative as part of this collaborative is implementing the “Sequential Intercept Model”, aimed at reducing recidivism among mentally ill criminal suspects by helping them quickly connect to health and social services when they leave jail. 
  • KXAN covered the story on April 1st. View it here
  • The Austin American Statesman covered this initiative on April 2nd. Read it here.

In the Media: An Inside View with A/TCRRT Member Lauren Johnson

 
We are proud to announce that Reentry Roundtable Planning Council Member and XOffenders' Council Co-Chair Lauren Johnson was featured in an article in the Texas Observer about her advocacy around reentry issues! In the article, Lauren shares her inspirational journey to becoming an advocate for ex-offenders: "Millions of people all over the world get up and go to work and fight for things and are activists, but when you take into account where I came from, that’s where the story’s got the power, right?"

CAN Releases Travis County Criminal Justice Statistics


Community Advancement Network, or CAN, officially released their 2015 Community Dashboard, a comprehensive report that analyzes 17 socio-economic indicators to produce an overview of the social health and well-being of Austin and Travis County. In a report concerning disproportionality in jail bookings in Travis County, CAN found that while African Americans represent 8% of the total county population, they account for 21% of overall jail bookings, and are 3.4 times more likely than white counterparts to be booked into jail. View the full report here.

Reframing the Way we Discuss Criminal Justice


How do we effectively communicate to the public about the need to reform the criminal justice system? FrameWorks Institute is an organization seeking to advance the nonprofit sector's communications capacity by identifying, translating and modeling relevant scholarly research for framing the public discourse about social problems. In partnership with the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard University's Law School, FrameWorks has gathered research focused around developing more effective ways to communicate about public safety, criminal justice, and the reforms necessary to fix the system. Read up on the resources and recommendations here.
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