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A Texas Legal Guide to Reentry - Homelessness and Ex-Prisoners

Click on the link below to download the complete manual. The introduction and table of contents are below.

 

Introduction

The United States has the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, housing nearly one-quarter of the world’s prisoners. Nearly one in every 100 adults in the United States is behind bars. When probation and parole are included, the number of adults under some form of correction supervision rises to one in 31.

In Texas, one in 22 adults are under some form of correctional supervision: in prison, in jail, on probation or on parole.On any given day, Texas’ massive state corrections system houses a daily average of 155,000 inmates in 114 state correctional facilities. Texas’ 246 county lockups house an additional 41,000 prisoners each day. Over half of the people (63%) in the county jails are not serving a sentence and are being detained for other reasons.There are nearly four times as many prisons and jails in Texas (360) as there are university campuses statewide (94).

Out of a corrections budget of around $3 billion, Texas pays an estimated $16,000 to $21,000 a year to house a single prisoner,6 well above federal poverty threshold of $11,170 for annually for a single-member household.

In 2007, the Texas legislature dedicated $241 million of the corrections budget to create residential and community-based treatment and diversion programs. Other reforms afforded courts more sentencing options for new offenders that permitted non prison-based sanctions for parole violations. In recent years, more inmates have been granted parole and for shorter terms. 9 Fewer people are returning to prison for minor infractions and are suffering fewer sanctions for violating conditions of release.10

A positive trend is emerging.   A 2010 study noted that for the first time since 1972, the number of people released from prisons in the United States exceeded those admitted.Texas has not experienced a similar decline in numbers; however, Texas’ rate of incarceration has declined in recent years. Texas releases between 70-75,000 felons each year; half to straight release without supervision, the remainder to parole.The drop in the rate of incarceration has effectively swelled the ranks of ex-offenders that are now trying to navigate multiple roadblocks to reentry.

The newly released are expected to return to their communities, contribute to the tax base and participate constructively in society. For many, successful reentry - meaningful participation in society – remains a myth.   All too often, people with a criminal record find themselves locked out of employment, shelter, public benefits, access to health care – everything that might contribute to a successful transition into society.  Outmoded laws and policies continue to penalize people who have served time.

 

Collateral consequences of criminal convictions continue to thwart the efforts of individuals to join society. In recent years, legal initiatives to remove or lessen the impact of these collateral consequences have been gaining momentum on both state and federal levels.

This publication addresses some of the current barriers faced by previously incarcerated people. It is intended to be a resource guide for advocates that assist previously incarcerated people who find themselves locked out of meaningful participation in society.

Table of Contents

Identification

  • Legal name - Page 19
  • Driver's License or Identity Card - Page 19
  • Commercial Driver's License (CDL) - Page 27
  • Birth Certificates - Page 30
  • Social Security Identification - Page 34
  • Passports - Page 36
  • Adult Name Change - Page 37
  • Name Change with existing criminal history - Page 38

Transportation and Driving Privileges

  • Suspension of driver's license - Page 40
  • Out of State Driving Offenses - Page 41
  • Driver Surcharges - Page 44
  • Occupational Driver's License - Page 46

Offense - Related Debt

  • Consequences of Failure to Pay - Page 50
  • Judicial Discretion - Page 50
  • Offense-Related Debt and Child Support - Page 51
  • Court Order Waiving Surcharges - Page 52
  • Outstanding Tickets and Citations - Page 52
  • Excessive Fines and the Eighth Amendment - Page 52

Criminal History Records

  • Sources of Criminal Records- Page 54
  • Dissemination of Records by Private Entities - Page 55
  • Contents of Criminal Records- Page 57
  • Case Dispositions and Sentencing Alternatives - Page 58
  • Protective Orders - Page 60

Expunction, Nondisclosure, and Pardon

  • Difference between expunction and nondisclosure - Page 63
  • Expunction - Page 63
  • Nondisclosure - Page 65
  • Pardon - Page 70

Employment

  • Civil Rights - Page 72
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook - Page 75
  • Work authorization documents - Page 75
  • Job search with a criminal record - Page 78
  • Wage and Hour Laws - Page 82
  • Illegal deductions from wages - Page 84
  • "No Match" Letters - Page 85
  • Federal Bonding Program - Page 87
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) - Page 87
  • Starting a Business - page 88
  • Temporary Employment and Staff Leasing - Page 89
  • Day Labor - Page 90
  • Employment and Social Media - Page 93
  • Job Scams - Page 94

Professional Licenses

  • Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation - Page 96
  • TDLR Request Process - Page 97
  • TWIC - Page 101

Public Benefits

  • Denial of Federal Benefits (DFB) - Page 102
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - Page 102
  • Food Stamps (SNAP)  - Page 104
  • Medicaid and Chip - Page 104
  • Social Security and SSI - Page 105
  • Unemployment Benefits - Page 106
  • Educational Assistance - Page 106

Shelter and Housing

  • Homelessness - Page 107
  • Release to Supervision - Page 107
  • Affordable Housing - Page 108
  • Evictions, Restrictions and Bans - Page 111
  • Housing discrimination - Page 113
  • Rent with a Record - Page 115
     

Rights of Parents

  • Equal rights to Child - Page 120
  • Locating children - Page 120
  • Custody - Page 121
  • Paternity - Page 122
  • Termination of Parental Rights - Page 122
  • Child Protection Services (CPS) - Page 123
  • Child Support and Modification - Page 124
  • Child Support and Previously Incarcerated Parents - Page 124
  • Duty to Support - Page 127
  • Consequences of Failure to Support - Page 127
  • Conservatorship and Child Support - Page 128
  • Calculating Child Support - Page 129
  • Medical Support - Page 130
  • Retroactive Support and Arrearages 131
  • Employer Withholding and Disbursement - Page 132
  • Setting Child Support  - Other Factors - Page 132
  • Modifying child support - Page 133
  • The modification process - Page 134
  • Texas Attorney General's Office (OAG) Cases - Page 134
  • Options for Child Support Modification - Page 135
  • Child Support Enforcement - Page 136

Education

  • Eligibility for Texas Financial Aid - Page 138
  • Non Profit Community Colleges - Page 139
  • Proprietary/for-profit colleges and universities - Page 140

Voting and Selective Service

  • Voting - Page 142
  • Selective Service Registration - Page 145
  • Status information letter - Page 146
  • Jury service - Page 147

Consequential consequences of conviction

  • Page 148