Monday, June 23, 2008

Austin Reentry Roundable seeking input on policy priorities

Tomorrow night (Tuesday, June 24) the Austin Travis County Re-Entry Roundtable invites the public to contribute to crafting the group's 2009 legislative agenda, via email:
The Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable invites you to join us for our upcoming "Policy Reform" community forum.

Recognizing that people with criminal histories face significant barriers and that more effective reentry policies and laws will provide a greater opportunity for success, we ask that you please join us as we identify and prioritize issues that will determine the focus of our advocacy work both now and during the legislative session.

The forum will be Tuesday, June 24 from 6:00 to 8:00 PM at Town Lake Center (721 Barton Springs Road). Please see the flyer for more details including how to RSVP.
A flyer attached included the following additional detail:
* How can we keep people out of jail while holding them accountable for their actions?

* Do you have a family member or friend who has or will be leaving jail or prison and is struggling with reintegration into the community?

* How do we balance successful reentry of formerly incarcerated people and public safety?

The Goal of this Forum Is To:
Help the Austin/Travis County Re-Entry Roundtable's Policy Reform Committee identify the policies, practices, and challenges that impact successful reentry for persons with criminal backgrounds.
Take their survey and RSVP here or just show up at the event.

I thought of one reentry-oriented idea recently that Travis County wouldn't need any legislative authority to enact. A friend recently had all sorts of trouble getting arrangements with their Travis County probation officer because this person and the P.O. had the same days off. So every month the same choice arose: Either miss work or miss a P.O. appointment. Eventually, both the job and the P.O. were unhappy, but the situation seemed entirely preventable.

I don't see why the Travis County probation department can't do its best to acquire work schedules for offenders' who're employed and schedule office visits when they're not on the job. How simple would it be to ensure that probationers with jobs can take care of their office visits on their days off? Ditto for parolees though I've no firsthand knowledge the same thing happens there.

For that matter, I continue to believe probation and parole departments should use the employment rate among supervised offenders as one of the primary outcome measures by which both administrators and line officers are judged. Prioritizing employment for probationers - or at least getting the probation department out of the offender's way - would go a long way toward preventing recidivism an improving public safety. When the the probation officer creates barriers to employment instead of encouraging it, IMO our priorities are backward.

RELATED: See this Power Point presentation (pdf) explaining the makeup and activities of the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable.



Anonymous said...

Prison Inmates: Second Chance in Florida
Posted by: "Carol L" carolleo864
Sat Jun 21, 2008 5:46 am (PDT)
Prison Inmates: Second Chance in Florida
New rule restores rights to 115,000 Fla. ex-felons
By BILL KACZOR (Associated Press Writer)
From Associated Press
June 18, 2008 3:13 AM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - More than 115,000 former felons who completed their sentences have had their civil rights restored since a new state rule went into effect 14 months ago, Gov. Charlie Crist said.

The rule by the Board of Executive Clemency, which Crist chairs, restored rights almost automatically, ending a policy of requiring the panel to act individually on every restoration of rights request. The rights include voting and the ability to get state and local licenses for certain types of jobs.

"Once somebody has truly paid their debt to society, we should recognize it," Crist said Tuesday. "We should welcome them back into society and give them that second chance. Who doesn't deserve a second chance?"

The 115,000 former felons Crist cited account for more than half of all former felons in the state who have had their rights restored during the last 14 years, according to the governor.

The governor made the announcement at a two-day summit of state officials, lawmakers, community activists, prison ministers and others to brainstorm ideas for keeping former inmates from returning to crime after their release.

At Crist's urging, the clemency board approved the rule change in April 2007. Before then, Florida was among a handful of states that refused to automatically restore felons' rights after they completed their sentences.

Only about 7,000 released felons had their rights restored annually under the old rule that required individual hearings and board action. Besides Crist, the board is made up of the state's three elected Cabinet members.

Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil said he hoped the summit would help find alternatives to building more prisons to house repeat offenders. About a third of more than 11,000 inmates released annually are back in prison after three years.

"We simply can't continue to keep doing the same old thing the same old way expecting we're going to have some different outcomes," McNeil said.

He said it will take courage for lawmakers to shift funding from prison building to providing inmates more drug and alcohol abuse treatment, education and training need to find jobs after they are released so they won't return to crime.

"There are some who say that you're either going to work for it, beg for it or steal it," McNeil said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

SB said...

TX just spent 1.2 million dollars for a computer upgrade. This is to put sex offenders' employers on the registry. Jobs will be lost.
Regardless of what else changes the nature of the crime will remain the same. All that come out of their cages should be treated like human beings.
Who has the power to fire Rissie Owens? She clogs up the system and we pick up the tab. Those 5 year set-offs are expensive.

Anonymous said...

Here's an awesome idea that everyone else has thought of. how about the legislature stop piling on 'civil' laws to those that have completed their sentences. you think that is a good idea. I sure do!

SB said...

Exactly. The system tries to control everyone. When a sentence is served cut them loose.
If I were convicted of a crime I would prefer my punishment all at once. Give me 20 lashes and leave me the hell alone. No prison. No probation. No registration. No criminal history. My back would tell my story. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT WE FIND SOLUTIONS THAT BYPASS PRISON AND PAROLE. Maybe lashing is not the answer but it would be quick and final. What else would work in the same way?