Guest Blog: Voices from the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

March 5th, 2012 Posted in Criminal Law Reform, Prison Reform, Uncategorized
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By Emily Rogers
Planning Coordinator, Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable

In its self-evaluation report to the Sunset Advisory Commission, The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) says that one of its biggest opportunities for improvement lies in the reentry of offenders into the community.  There’s good reason for TDCJ to focus its attention on reentry. After all, 95% of incarcerated people will eventually come home to their communities. Reentry is not an option. It’s inevitable. As such, planning for reentry as soon as a person enters the criminal justice system is a necessity for building stronger, safer communities. Reentry and full reintegration into society should be an explicit goal of our criminal justice system.

The sunset review of Texas’ criminal justice agencies provides Texans an opportunity to take stock of the current system. The Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable offers the following suggestions for making reentry work:

·         Use evidence-based practices to provide rehabilitative programming tailored to individual need.

·         Urge reentry planning and planning for continuity of care to begin at entry into the criminal justice system in particular for vulnerable populations.

·         Promote partnerships between criminal justice entities and the community, which can be used to monitor and sustain the reintegration of individuals exiting the criminal justice system.

Supporting reentry involves a shift in thinking about how people who break the law are punished. The shift requires adopting strategies that will maximize the gain to public safety rather than focusing solely on incapacitating people by locking them up. To promote successful reentry and reintegration, legislators and public officials need to hear that the citizens of their communities are ready to use smarter, cost-effective, community-based approaches to criminal justice.

If you would like to know more about the Austin/Travis County Reentry, you can visit our website.  You can also contact Jeri Houchins at jerijeanw@gmail.com or Emily Rogers at emilyrrt@gmail.com. The full report on our recommendations to the Sunset Advisory Commission can be found here. Our meetings and events are open to anyone interested in reentry. Our calendar can be found here.

Interested in getting more involved with the ACLU of Texas’ Criminal Law Reform Campaign?  Sign up to be a CAN Activist!

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