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Innovation

Removing Barriers to Reentry 

 
 

When a person is released from the prison system, having served their sentence, they are seemingly free to return to society to pursue life, liberty and hopefully happiness, too. But in reality, the obstacles that formerly incarcerated people face to securing housing, employment and a rightful place in the community, can be overwhelming.

That’s why Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable was formed in 2004 as a fund at Austin Community Foundation, following the lead of the National Reentry Roundtable. This robust coalition works to support the successful reentry and integration of individuals with criminal histories by identifying barriers, implementing work groups that identify and implement strategies to address barriers, and a planning council that serves to govern the coalition’s work.

The vision of the Roundtable is a community that values and supports the successful reentry and integration of formerly incarcerated persons and individuals with criminal histories.

With 95% of incarcerated individuals eventually returning to society, reintegration is crucial, not only for those reentering, but also to ensure the safety and well-being of our whole community. Successfully re-entering the community usually requires employment and housing assistance and mental health access.

Successfully re-entering the community usually requires employment and housing assistance and mental health access.

The Roundtable brings together a coalition of public sector leaders, community members, individuals with criminal histories, and people who care about successful re-entry who work collaboratively. The work of the Roundtable is designed to bring partners and stakeholders together to strategically develop plans that will bring about system change to benefit all Central Texans.

The Roundtable also educates and advocates on behalf of formerly incarcerated people such as through the Fair Chance Hiring act passed in Austin in 2016 which is currently being challenged by Texas House Bill 577.

At Reentry Roundtable, the focus is the person, not the criminal charge. The coalition volunteers work hard to make sure that formerly incarcerated people may successfully reintegrate into the community.

--Bernadette Noll