STAY TUNED FOR OUR SEPTEMBER SPEAKER.
We are finalizing logistics and details.
Welcome to the new CAD monthly Kick Ass Updates! The past few months we have been working hard creating a website, revamping our Facebook page, creating a new logo, reworking our monthly emails, and lining up exciting speakers. You will continue to see some changes in the following months as we work out the kinks. Our goal is to maintain CAD as the premier Democratic club in Austin. Together and with your help we can.
DACA EMERGENCY FUND
As our members may know DACA is being phased out and now hundreds of local DREAMers have less than 30 days to apply for renewal one last time. October 5, 2017 is the deadline for DACA recipients whose work permit expires on or before March 5, 2018, to submit their renewal application.
Equal Justice Center is providing free legal services to help low-income applicants renew their DACA, we just need to cover the application fee. Equal Justice Center is a non-profit which serves people who are below 200% of the poverty level. Each application renewal fee is $495, a steep fee for many.
Our goal is to raise $50,000 to help pay for the application fees for 200 DREAMers that EJC anticipates to serve. A donation of $495 (or $505 online to cover transaction costs) will help a DREAMer renew their work permit and reduce risk of deportation for two years. Additionally, we have already secured a $10,000 matching pledge and are looking for more matching pledges.
There are 3 ways to help:
1) Donate online by clicking here or by check (make check payable to Equal Justice Center and mail to P.O. Box 413, Austin,TX 78767)
2) Provide a matching pledge
3) Share with your network and ask them to donate
TRAVIS CO. & MENTAL HEALTH (Guest Column by Judge Nancy Hohengarten)
The Travis County Criminal Courts have had some type of mental health diversion for at least sixteen years beginning with Judges Crain and Kocurek. Since that time much has changed for the positive due to collaboration with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office, Integral Care, and others.
We have dedicated dockets for both felony (district) and misdemeanor (county) courts. Magistrate Judge Grizzard and District Judges Crain and Needles are responsible for felony dockets. Myself and Judge Carlos Barrera are responsible for misdemeanor dockets. As judge, I handle cases where a defendant has been held incompetent to stand trial as well as a mental health diversion docket where misdemeanors are dismissed upon completion of a set of pre-trial conditions. Judge Barrera handles the first setting of cases with defendants with mental illness who are incarcerated.
One important addition to the diversion process has been the Mental Health Public Defender’s Office, now ten years old, as well as private defenders with special expertise in mental health cases. Both the County Attorney and the District Attorney’s Offices have specially assigned prosecutors who understand mental health issues and approach prosecution differently.
Recently, the Judge Guy Herman Center opened which will provide needed short term treatment. Importantly, law enforcement are able to bring persons with mental illness to the center rather than jail. Also, the Austin Police Department partners with Integral Care’s Mobile Crisis Outreach Team to divert people into treatment rather than the jail on misdemeanor cases. However, there are still huge challenges. Namely, access to appropriate supportive housing for the severely mentally ill. Lack of such housing increases the odds that a person will decompensate and end up in trouble with the law. Hopefully, Integral Care’s upcoming Oak Springs Housing First Project will answer some of this need as well as the City of Austin’s efforts.
TCSO AND HURRICANE HARVEY
Sheriff Sally Hernandez, was commended by Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens for TCSO’s Harvey aid. Sheriff Stephens wrote, “A Huge Thanks to Travis County Sheriffs deputies and Sheriff Hernandez for sending cars and people.They have been geared up and ready to go since Wednesday, but couldn’t get here because of the roads. Thanks for giving our guys a chance to get a little rest and check their families and homes.”