I remain heartened by the defiant response of our community here in Austin to the ending of DACA. We’ve been standing with University Leadership Initiative, with United We Dream, and with undocumented students who have DACA and who don’t have DACA, for years. We’re outraged by the actions of bullies like Donald Trump, Ken Paxton, Jeff Sessions, Greg Abbott, Dan Patrick who have tried to terrorize these communities for months now. [node:read-more:link]
The Night Out for Safety and Liberation is a national event that seeks to redefine public safety by challenging us to question what #SafetyIs for black, brown, and poor people. Texas Advocates for Justice chapters in Houston and Austin came together for #NOSL17 to imagine, celebrate, and connect. [node:read-more:link]
(AUSTIN, Texas) — On the second anniversary of Sandra Bland’s death in a Waller County Jail, Austin criminal justice and immigrant rights groups and formerly incarcerated Austinites are reacting to a new report from Grassroots Leadership that shows dramatic racial disparities in the Travis County Jail. Advocates are calling on local officials to act to reduce incarceration rates and racial disparities in the jail. [node:read-more:link]
Last Thursday night, organizing efforts by a powerful group of formerly incarcerated people and their allies made history by making Austin the first Fair Chance Hiring City in the South! Austin City Council voted 8-2 to pass a Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance — an anti-discrimination policy that moves the background check to the end of the hiring process for most private employers, allowing candidates to be considered based on their merits first, without the stigma of a conviction history. [node:read-more:link]
In the coming weeks, Austin City Council will be debating a Fair Chance Hiring (FCH) ordinance aimed at eliminating employment discrimination against individuals in Austin with a criminal record. This would be a huge step toward creating a more equitable Austin, strengthening our communities, and dismantling institutional racism in our city.
What exactly is Fair Chance Hiring? [node:read-more:link]
Many jails, including Travis’, have moved in recent years to offering only video-based visitation, in which guests communicate with their incarcerated loved ones through a Skype-like monitor. The new law requires counties to maintain in-person visitation as an option but exempted counties that had already spent a significant amount implementing a video-only system. Travis County, which in 2012 approved a contract with Securus Technologies to add video capabilities to its downtown jail and the correctional complex in Del Valle, was exempted this month.
But the Austin-based nonprofit Grassroots Leadership, which opposes the privatization of prison services, is questioning whether the county should have been granted the exemption because the Securus contract said that the company, not the taxpayers, was on the hook for the program. ...
Lauren Johnson, a criminal justice fellow with Grassroots Leadership, said the group is not contesting whether the law requires in-person visitation at those two facilities but believes it should be made available for inmates who live in the rest of the buildings. ...
“Video is a perfectly reasonable option,” Quong Charles said. “The fact that at Travis County it is the only type of visitation available to anybody — and on top of that, the fact that the county and a for-profit corporation are making money on its usage — we don’t think that that’s kosher. We don’t think that that’s a smart way or a just way.”
(AUSTIN, Texas) — At a press conference today, the #LetSulmaStay campaign released a letter with signatures from over 60 active members and leaders of faith communities around the country, saying, “We write today to say that we want Sulma [Franco] to stay. Not only does Sulma not meet ICE priority removal requirements, but by forcing her into sanctuary ICE has ensured that she cannot provide for her own material needs. [node:read-more:link]