This report presents the features and impact of Phases I and II of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Travis County, Texas.
In the early period of Phase I of the JRI, Travis County examined a variety of strategies for dealing with jail overcrowding. The Travis County Community Justice Council, which led the JRI Phase I initiative, developed a change strategy that focused on the development of permanent supportive housing for the chronically homeless, mentally ill, and substance abusers who regularly composed a sizable percentage of the jail population. Federal funding was received for this project to be completed in Phase II of the Travis County JRI. In Phase II, the Travis County Community Consortium worked with both the providers of housing units and local service providers resourced to provide mental health treatment and medication management services, substance abuse treatment, employment services, and other support. The pilot project provided public housing vouchers and case management services to link clients to psychiatric services and medication, psychological counseling, and other support services as needed. A June 2015 Urban Institute evaluation documented outputs for the 50 individuals rejected by the housing provider and the 23 who were accepted into the housing program. The evaluation report concluded that lower rearrest rates among the housed group should be interpreted with caution, since the housing eligibility criteria included a criminal background check. Improvements have been made in the relaxation of eligibility requirements, which are administered by the County Commissioners' Court. This court controls admission to housing, intensive case management, and services. Funding for the program has been extended through fiscal year 2018, which allows continuation of the evaluation of program outcomes under recent revisions.