Decarcerate ATX

Apr 20, 2018
Austin Chronicle

Beside the Point: Get Off Your Butt

"On April 3, in advance of that initial recommended deadline, a coalition of advocates including the Texas Fair Defense Project and Grassroots Leadership held a press conference to request that Council commit to a full repeal – and it was there that Grassroots organizer Chris Harris announced that the city had punted on the OCA's recommended deadline. The city has a team working to assess its overall effort to address the issue, but the coalition would rather not wait. 'We call on our city today to repeal these ordinances," Harris said, "and stop the criminalization of homelessness."'

..."Coalition member Roni Chelben, who works with the Gathering Ground Theatre, a theatre troupe of people experiencing homelessness, told me that the missed deadline made the coalition fear Council is backing away from the issue. 'It's a matter of pressure,' she said. 'Nobody's interested in doing anything about it, because it's a complicated issue.' She questioned why the city would wait for a holistic look at the city's efforts on homelessness before taking action to remove ordinances that are having a demonstrable effect on people's ability to survive right now." [node:read-more:link]

Apr 4, 2018
Austin American-Statesman

Travis County eyes new women’s jail facility

"I’m supportive of trying everything we can regarding jail diversion efforts, especially for misdemeanor cases. But, jail diversion efforts will take time, and I expect activist groups (especially Grassroots Leadership) to help with this effort. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those who didn’t want the county to go ahead with the new women’s facility will be actively involved in meaningful ways to divert women from our jail. Effective jail diversion efforts will also take lots of money and community services, which means taxpayers would more than likely have to foot the bill. In the meantime, this office is working diligently in trying to find ways to lower our overall jail population by being an active participant in our Jail Population Monitoring Group." [node:read-more:link]

Apr 6, 2018

Decriminalizing Homelessness / Celebrating Cesar Chavez's Legacy

"This episode of KOOP Radio's People United presents coverage of both a press conference by the Decarcerate ATX coalition, which wants a repeal of city ordinances that put unreasonable burdens on homeless residents of Austin, Texas, and the 17th annual Cesar Chavez "¡Sí, Se Puede!" March on Austin's east side, which focused on issues affecting low-income Latino residents.  At the press conference, Austin City Council member Greg Casar from District 4, John Elford of the University United Methodist Church, Cate Graziani and Chris Harris of Grassroots Leadership, Annette Price of the Texas Fair Defense Project, and Austin resident Alvin Sanderson spoke outside the Austin Convention Center on April 3, 2018. " [node:read-more:link]

Apr 4, 2018

Austin Group is Seeking an Ordinance to Stop the City from targeting the Homeless

"'Don't criminalize the homeless.'  That's the message from a group who is advocating for an end to city ordinances that targets the homeless, including one that bans them from sleeping on downtown sidewalks and another that regulates panhandling.  Albin Sanderson is homeless and says these ordinances make life even tougher for him, as well says he almost drowned in a recent rainstorm because he couldn't sleep on the city streets.  He and other advocates say the city should stop criminalizing homelessness and instead find ways to put them into jobs.  Others say fining them only keeps them in debt and on the street.

Protesters are demanding that Austin changes its ordinances targeting homeless people and there are three items on the books that protesters are taking issue with, including one that limits where the homeless can camp and how they can panhandle.  

Homeless supporters say the city should be giving the homeless jobs instead of fining them or putting them in jail." [node:read-more:link]

Apr 3, 2018
The Patch

Advocates Call For End To 'Criminalization' Of Austin's Homeless

"'The Decarcerate ATX coalition is calling for an immediate repeal of these ordinances and an end to the criminalization of homelessness,' officials said in a press advisory ahead of the gathering.

Added Cate Graziani, criminal justice campaigns coordinator with Grassroots Leadership: 'In addition to talking about fair housing, let's not omit that Austin is putting people in jail for homelessness instead of providing homes, jobs, or services. These ordinances do not deter people from living outside when they have nowhere else to go. By funneling people into the criminal justice system, these ordinances make it more difficult for people to secure housing and employment."' [node:read-more:link]

Apr 3, 2018
Fox 7

Advocates call for the city to end ordinances targeting homeless

"A coalition called “Decarcerate ATX”  is calling on the city of Austin to repeal three ordinances they say: criminalize the homeless.

The first ordinance, 9.4.14 prohibits sitting or lying on a sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in the downtown business area. The other is ordinance 9.4.13, which limits actions related to panhandling. The third ordinance 9.4.11 is an ordinance banning camping in public areas. 

The advocates said they are calling on city council to get rid of the rules, as they only make things worse, they said. Albin Sanderson is homeless right now. At a Tuesday press conference, he described a time when officers approached him while he was sleeping one evening." [node:read-more:link]

Victory: Facing Community Opposition, Travis County Commissioners Delay Building New Women’s Jail

AUSTIN — Formerly incarcerated people and criminal justice reform advocates celebrated a victory Tuesday afternoon when county officials in Central Texas voted down the construction of a new $97 million women’s jail.  On a 3-1 vote, the Travis County Commissioners Court voted to remove funding for design and pre-construction of the new women’s jail from certificates of obligation approved today and urged stakeholders to present solutions for lowering the local jail population. [node:read-more:link]

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