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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. One in 5 incarcerated people are locked up for a drug related offense. When probation and parole are included, the number of adults under some form of correction supervision rises to one in 31.

On any given day, Texas’ massive state corrections system houses a daily average of 163,000 inmates in 110 state correctional facilities. Texas’ 246 county lockups house an additional 41,000 prisoners each day. Over half of the people in the county jails (63%) 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).

This represents an increase over data from 2010 but the count is not reflective of the landscape as a whole. 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. Fewer people are returning to prison for minor infractions and are suffering fewer sanctions for violating conditions of release.

A positive trend is emerging.

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. In 2015, the Texas Legislature approved sweeping changes to criminal record sealing laws proactively and in 2017 made those changes retroactive. This increased eligibility drastically increases the likelihood that an individual who commits a crime of poverty will not be punished for the rest of their lives.

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 18
  • Driver's License or Identity Card - Page 18
  • Commercial Driver's License (CDL) - Page 26
  • Birth Certificates - Page 30
  • Social Security Identification - Page 34
  • Passports - Page 36
  • Adult Name Change - Page 37
  • Name Change with Existing Criminal History - Page 39

Transportation and Driving Privileges

  • Suspension of driver's license - Page 41
  • Out of State Driving Offenses - Page 43
  • Driver Surcharges - Page 46
  • Occupational Driver's License - Page 47

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 53

Criminal History Records

  • Sources of Criminal Records- Page 55
  • Dissemination of Records by Private Entities - Page 57
  • Contents of Criminal Records- Page 59
  • Case Dispositions and Sentencing Alternatives - Page 59
  • Protective Orders - Page 62

Expunction, Nondisclosure, and Pardon

  • Difference Between Expunction and Nondisclosure - Page 65
  • Expunction - Page 66
  • Nondisclosure - Page 68
  • Pardon - Page 74

Employment

  • Civil Rights - Page 76
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook - Page 80
  • Work Authorization Documents - Page 80
  • Job search with a criminal record - Page 82
  • Wage and Hour Laws - Page 88
  • Illegal Deductions from Wages - Page 90
  • "No Match" Letters - Page 91
  • Federal Bonding Program - Page 93
  • Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) - Page 94
  • Starting a Business - page 95
  • Leasing - Page 95
  • Day Labor - Page 96
  • Employment and Social Media - Page 100
  • Job Scams - Page 101

Vocational Licenses

  • Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation - Page 103
  • TDLR Application Process - Page 105
  • TWIC - Page 109

Public Benefits

  • Denial of Federal Benefits (DFB) - Page 110
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - Page 110
  • Food Stamps (SNAP)  - Page 112
  • Medicaid and Chip - Page 113
  • Social Security and SSI - Page 113
  • Unemployment Benefits - Page 114
  • Education Assistance - Page 114

Shelter and Housing

  • Homelessness - Page 116
  • Release to Supervision - Page 116
  • Affordable Housing - Page 118
  • Evictions, Restrictions and Bans - Page 120
  • Housing Discrimination - Page 124
  • Renting with a Record - Page 126
     

Rights of Parents

  • Equal rights to Child - Page 131
  • Locating Children - Page 131
  • Custody - Page 132
  • Paternity - Page 133
  • Termination of Parental Rights - Page 133
  • Child Protection Services (CPS) - Page 134
  • Child Support and Modification - Page 135
  • Child Support and Previously Incarcerated Parents - Page 135
  • Duty to Support - Page 138
  • Consequences of Failure to Support - Page 139
  • Conservatorship and Child Support - Page 139
  • Calculating Child Support - Page 140
  • Medical Support - Page 142
  • Retroactive Support and Arrearages - Page 143
  • Employer Withholding and Disbursement - Page 144
  • Setting Child Support  - Other Factors - Page 144
  • Modifying Child Support - Page 145
  • The Modification Process - Page 146
  • Texas Attorney General (OAG) Cases - Page 146
  • Options for Child Support Modification - Page 147
  • Child Support Enforcement - Page 148

Education

  • Eligibility for Texas Financial Aid - Page 151
  • Nonprofit Community Colleges - Page 153
  • Proprietary/for-profit Colleges and Universities - Page 153

Voting and Selective Service

  • Voting - Page 155
  • Selective Service Registration - Page 158
  • Status Information Letter - Page 159
  • Jury Service - Page 160

Collateral Consequences of Conviction

  • Page 162