Justice Planning operates three service programs for Travis County adults who currently are or have been involved in the justice system. The goals of these programs are to promote successful reentry to Travis County.
Social Work & Reentry
Job Skills & Placement
Justice-Related Programs/Services Travis County Offers
Travis County partially funds the Austin Travis County Reentry Roundtable (A/TCRRT). The purpose of the A/TCRRT is to bring public awareness surrounding the issues ex-offenders face when returning home from prison. The A/TCRRT organizational structure consist of an Executive Committee, Planning Committee; Evidence-Based Practice; Ex-offenders and Support Services subcommittees.
Commitment to Change (CTC) was created in 2005. It is a cognitive behavioral therapy program, for both court ordered and voluntary male clients, designed to focus on substance abuse and criminal conduct. Both of these issues are addressed utilizing an evaluated curriculum called Criminal Conduct and Substance Abuse Treatment: Strategies for Self Improvement and Change by Kenneth Wanberg, Ph.D., and Harvey Milkman Ph.D. The program provides treatment while the individual is incarcerated as well as provides an aftercare group that provides the individual ongoing support post-release. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TCDJ) allocated 24 treatment beds for the use of the CTC program. The program can serve up to 96 clients annually. The program offers treatment to clients while still incarcerated and also offers an aftercare group for ongoing support post-release.
The Commitment to Change (CTC) program provides therapeutic re-entry services to persons assessed as moderate to high risk to re-offend (based on the Ohio Risk Assessment System) and who will be returning to Travis County upon release from Travis State Jail. Our staff is composed of masters’ level, licensed social workers who are trained and licensed to provide the following services:
- Therapeutic support and education in issues including, but not limited to: life skills (problem solving, conflict resolution, goal setting, anger management, criminal thinking, etc.), chemical dependency and relapse prevention, family and friend relationships and reunification, and any number of mental health diagnoses and treatment areas. This is done through individual and group therapies, both offered while the client is still incarcerated and post-release, as well as family/relationship counseling post-release.
- Intensive case management including referrals to community service providers for needs including, but not limited to: basic needs assistance (food, clothing, shelter), physical health providers, mental health providers, employment resources, education resources, disability determination services and support, identification documents assistance, legal assistance, and money management/financial planning assistance.
- Wrap-around re-entry planning and support. Assist the offender to identify targeted goals for their re-entry and plan on specific steps to achieve these goals. Once released, work continues through meetings in the community with clients for a minimum of 3 months in order to provide continued support, accountability for their plan and therapy. To remain in the program, the client is required to meet with his social worker weekly for the first month post-release at a minimum.
Since February 2009, Travis County has participated in an ongoing justice reinvestment project, initially collaborating with the Urban Institute. The Urban Institute merged their justice reinvestment efforts with the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) to better reflect the initiative’s national scope. In FY12, Justice Planning (JP) submitted an application for JRI grant funding to pay for permanent supportive housing and ancillary support services for two years for 22 chronically homeless mentally ill, frequent users of the Travis County jail.
In 2014, JP continued work on the Justice Reinvestment Initiative housing and case management pilot program. The JRI pilot provides permanent supportive housing, intensive case management, and ancillary support services, such as medication management and substance abuse treatment, to twenty-two chronically homeless frequent users of the Travis County Jail.
In 2006, Travis County received a four-year grant from the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense to implement the nation’s first Mental Health Public Defender Office (MHPDO). The MHPDO provides legal defense to defendants found indigent in Travis County who are mentally ill or have mental health issues. The MHPDO is made up of one director, one attorney, one case management coordinator, two social workers, two case workers, one legal secretary and one office specialist. The MHPDO is located at 2201 Post Road and represents approximately 400 mentally ill defendants annually.
The Texas Family Code requires a judge to appoint an attorney ad litem to represent the interests of children in civil suits. The mandate is partially being met through the Office of Child Representation (OCR), a public defender office that provides legal representation to children in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases. Travis County was awarded a grant by the Texas Supreme Court in 2009 from the establishment of this office, as well as the Office of Parental Representation.
OCR conducts client investigations, attends court hearings and trials, prepares cases for appeal and counsels clients while their cases are pending. Additionally, OCR utilizes the assistance of five attorneys (including the managing attorney), a paralegal, a social worker, and two administrative staff.
A mandate under the Texas Family Code, the Office of Parental Representation (OPR) provides legal representation and case management services to parents who have had their children removed by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services as a result of alleged abuse/neglect.
The attorneys investigate cases, conduct and respond to discovery, file pleadings, prepare for court hearings, attend trials, prepare cases for appeal, and counsel clients while their case is pending.
In October 2013, Justice Planning applied for and received a $40,000 planning grant from the Texas Governor's Office Criminal Justice Division for the implementation of a prostitution specialty court and prevention program to be implemented in 2015. The grant length is for eight months and necessitates necessary integration among the courts, prosecutors, alcohol and drug treatment services, mental health counseling services, supported and supervised housing, employment, education and intensive case management referrals to local social service and health agencies to achieve client success. These integrated services will be determined in the planning process for a prostitution specialty court and prevention program.
JP manages funding to provide transitional housing for clients involved in JPS-funded programs. Client eligibility is determined by the severity of mental and/or physical health needs; history of homelessness; level of cooperation and participation; and permanency plan.
For more information please contact Cathy McClaugherty (512) 854-4713.
The Workforce Development Services (WDS), began in 2007, was implemented to enhance employment opportunities for ex-offenders in Travis County. The WDS coordinator works with individual ex-offenders in the community to help them prepare for employment and to find jobs.
WDS helps individuals prepare for employment and recruits employers as well as expanding capacity of other agencies to work more effectively with the ex-offender population.
During FY 2013, WDS was redesigned to conduct weekly community orientations called “Road to Success,” provide one-to-one individual assessments, reach out to employers willing to hire ex-offenders, and develop a social network with other local social service agencies. In FY 2014, the program was able to help 115 ex-offenders find employment through 48 recruited employers.
For more information contact Sandra Trevino, at (512) 865-7996.
Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force
The mission of the Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force is to reduce family violence and promote safety through a coordinated community response.
The Austin/Travis County Family Violence Task Force (FVTF) was created in 1989 by the concerned members of the community in an effort to improve the criminal justice system’s response to family violence by increasing communication among advocates, law enforcement and prosecution. At that time, an in-house study was done by the Austin Police Department, which confirmed that many families in our community rely on the criminal justice system for help.
Over the past 24 years, we have found that increased communication among partner agencies is imperative to the families we serve. This coordinated community response has resulted in numerous initiatives, most notably a specialized family violence court established in 1999, and has expanded to include many other community partners. The FVTF is a voluntary community endeavor, which meets monthly, and is open to anyone interested in the prevention of family violence.
Today the Task Force helps identify and implement improvements in system response to domestic violence and sexual assault through education and policy development. The FVTF is overseen by the Governance Committee, which is comprised of the Chairs of the various committees. The long-term goals of the FVTF are:
- Coordinate a consistent message and response concerning family violence;
- Promote cooperation, coordination, and communication among the courts, criminal/civil justice agencies, and service providers in Austin/Travis County;
- Create a safe environment for victims of abuse; and
- Ensure abusers are held accountable for their illegal behavior.
For more information e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Governance Committee includes the Task Force Chair, the immediate past Chair, a representative from the BIPP Advisory Committee, and Chairs for all current committees. The Governance Committee meets once a month and is open to all members of the Task Force. The Governance Committee is responsible for planning and facilitating monthly meetings; prioritizing projects; and general guidance of the Task Force.
Batterer Intervention and Prevention Programs
The BIPP Executive Committee is comprised of referral agencies from Travis County. The Executive Committee develops guidelines for the BIPPs that receive referrals from the criminal and civil justice systems in Travis County. The Committee also provides oversight of the vendors to ensure quality service delivery for abusers. Victim safety and offender accountability are the central tenets by which programs are measured.
The BIPP Advisory Committee is comprised of the BIPP Executive Committee members and the vendors who provide services to batterers. The Committee meets monthly to discuss trends and challenges in service delivery, best practices, and policies and procedures.
Family Violence Protection Team
The Family Violence Protection Team is largely comprised of law enforcement and prosecution agencies whose mission is to strengthen partnerships and promote collaboration among criminal justice components thereby enhancing services to victims/survivors of family violence.
The Policy Committee identifies gaps and barriers in services in the civil and criminal justice systems and the advocacy community. Members of the committee may also collaborate with local, state, and national partners to research, analyze and implement best practices to further ensure our mission.
The Public Awareness Committee is responsible for bringing information and education to the community at large and stakeholders on domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, and stalking. The Task Force’s annual awareness event, a Stand Up Paddle Parade on Lady Bird Lake, is held in October each year in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Monthly Task Force meetings invite guest speakers to discuss a myriad of issues, e.g., brain trauma experienced by victims, civil legal remedies for sexual assault victims, domestic violence in LGBTQ relationships, etc.
Youth and Children
The Youth and Children’s Committee’s goal is to strengthen community-wide prevention, treatment and response continuum for youth exposed to violence and to coordinate those services. In FY 2014, the committee will conduct an organizational and community strengths and needs assessment and develop a strategic plan outlining the implementation of activities.