This Mother's Day, I'm Fighting to End the Mass Incarceration of Our Children

On a day like today, when everyone is smiling and wishing you a happy Mother's Day, a part of me is not so happy. Today reminds me of the day my son entered a plea deal. Just before he agreed, he looked at me, and my gut was screaming, "Noooo!" Nothing was right.

My son suffered from PTSD after the murder of his brother, my second son. He was the third and last. He got into some serious mischief with a girl that lured him away from me with some Bonnie and Clyde nonsense. They hired a lawyer and he got 6 years, she got 6 days. [node:read-more:link]

What your donation to our work means to us

We are overwhelmed by the support we received during Amplify Austin on Friday. We are happy to share that we met our $10,000 goal. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you! Those donations will ensure that we are able to keep organizing for the long haul and fighting back against criminalization right here in Texas. For example, did you know the Travis County Commissioners Court is actually considering spending $97 million on a new jail? [node:read-more:link]

Dec 13, 2016

Proposed bill would ban Texas cities from ‘fair chance’ hiring ordinances

Texas lawmaker Rep. Paul Workman introduced bill HB 577 that wants to ban local governments, like the city of Austin, from forcing private employers in “Ban the Box” and “Fair Chance” hiring ordinances.

Back in March, the city council voted to delay background checks until a potential employee was given a hire-offer. The goal was to allow people with criminal history abetter chance at finding jobs.

Jorge Renaud, the Organizer for Texas advocates for justice, says the new proposed bill would hurt people like him who needed to get back into the workforce.


Some, however, think ordinances like Austin’s create an undue burden on local businesses. The Texas Association of Business’ Vice-President of Governmental affairs, Cathy Dewitt says, employers aren’t getting the full picture of who they’re talking to when ordinances like the fair-chance one are put in place.


She argues that if local governments want to use hiring practices like “Ban the Box” or “Fair-Chance” they can, but it infringes too much on private businesses. “The city of Austin is the only one that has extended it to the private employers, and how they’ve done so, almost creates a protected class for criminals, while we do want to help them, in creating a protective class, can be considered unfair.”

Renaud says, “All those individuals, you’re going to deny them the opportunity, the real opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with a potential employer, we’re going to say no because of that history" [node:read-more:link]

Grassroots Leadership and Texas Advocates for Justice Welcome Jorge Renaud!

New TAJ Organizer!
New TAJ Organizer, Jorge Renaud

Jorge comes to Grassroots Leadership after a long journey, from prison to walking the halls of the Texas Lege as a policy analyst for the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition and as an organizer with the Center for Community Change. An occasional slam poet and a fulltime believer in the necessity of those most affected by policy to be at the forefront of change, Jorge now is devoted to assisting the incredible work of the individuals in the Texas Advocates for Justice as they chop away at the roots of incarceration.  [node:read-more:link]

Sep 8, 2015
Time Warner Cable News

"Ban the Box" supporters target Austin businesses

A growing movement to help fair hiring practices across the country is getting support in the form of protest. Grassroots Leadership is calling for President Obama to enact an executive order to "ban the box." That would get rid of a question at the front of job applications asking if you've ever been convicted of a crime. Some say that puts an unfair prejudice in employers' minds before they've even had the chance to look at an application. 

Lauren Johnson with Grassroots Leadership said, "banning the box from the front of an application will not stop a business from doing a background check and it will not stop them from choosing the candidates that they're going to hire. But it is going to increase their talent pool and let them choose somebody based on their abilities and 
qualifications to do the job."  Tuesday's protest was held outside Athena Manufacturing in North Travis County. The protestors say companies like Athena keep 70 million people from getting meaningful employment. [node:read-more:link]

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