2019 TEXAS REENTRY SYMPOSIUM
Friday, September 27, 2019
7:30AM – 5:00PM
The Pavilion at the Belo Mansion
2101 Ross Avenue
Dallas, Texas 75201
7:30AM - 8:30AM
Registration and Breakfast
8:15AM - 8:30AM
8:30AM – 9:45AM
Criminal Justice Outcomes from the 86th Legislative Session
Receive a comprehensive overview of criminal justice actions taken
during the past Texas Legislative Session
Senior News Reporter, WFAA (Dallas)
Host of Inside Texas Politics
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Senior Advisor and Policy Director
Office of the Texas Governor
Honorable James White
Texas State Representative
Chair, House Corrections Committee
10:00AM – 11:30AM
The Ever-Changing Face of Criminal Justice in Our Society
"One Crisis Away" series, KERA
Honorable Marian Brown
Dallas County Sheriff
Honorable John Creuzot
Dallas County District Attorney
Chief Renee' Hall
Dallas Police Chief
11:30AM – 1:00PM
Luncheon Awards Presentation
2019 Westcott Foundation Client Achievement Awards
Unlocking DOORS®; 2019 Golden Key Awards
Unlocking DOORS® 2019 Jan Hart Black Volunteer of the Year Award
Returning Citizen Panel
Hear the stories, struggles, and successes of Returning Citizens
1:00PM – 1:30PM
Break — Networking
1:30PM – 3:00PM
What is a Reentry Peer Specialist and How Do I Become One?
"Reentry Peer Specialists" are people with shared lived experience around incarceration and mental health and/or substance use challenges who work in a variety of settings to provide support to other people with criminal justice involvement who are seeking to find or maintain their own personal healing and recovery. Dr. Sandra Smith of Via Hope (who was formerly incarcerated herself) will outline the new Via Hope Reentry Peer Specialist training and certification which she helped develop with assistance from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Dr. Sandra Smith, Ph.D, PRS, LCDCI -
Peer Leadership Manager, Via Hope; Author of "Choices"; Developer of the Via Hope Reentry Peer Specialist training and certification
Amanda Jones -
Pre-Release Reentry Specialist, Unlocking DOORS®;
Dorsen “Red” Gilbert, MHPS, RPS -
Mental Health Peer Specialist, Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, Inc.
Jack Brown, MHPS, PRS, RPS -
Peer Support Specialist, Peer 2 Peer Whole Wellness; Army Veteran
Jessica “Jai” Regalado, MHPS, LCDCII, RSPS, RPS -
Former Chairperson, Dallas ROSC; Candidate for LSMW
3:00PM – 5:00PM
Unlocking the DOORS to Key Reentry Resources
Listen and learn from key Unlocking DOORS’® Community Network Partners/Providers during this interactive experience
TOPICS INCLUDE BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO
Drug Addiction Treatment Options
Expungement of Criminal Records
Sex Offender Resources
Rex Gerstner — Pre-Release Reentry Specialist, Unlocking DOORS®
Bishop Omar Jahwar — Founder and CEO, Urban Specialists
Yousef Kassim — Co-Founder and CEO, Easy Expunctions
Alethea Robinson — Region Director, Region II, TDCJ Parole Division
Jeff Segura — Pretrial Services Manager, Dallas County Pretrial Services
17.5 Texas Continuing Educational Credits available for licensed professional counselors, marriage and family counselors, as well as licensed social workers
(Must be an official Unlocking DOORS'® Partner/Provider to receive this price)
|Early Bird Ticket Price
(Ends at 11PM Friday, September 6, 2019)
||Regular Ticket Price
(September 7 through September 27, 2019)
|Student Ticket Price
(Must include school enrollment information at checkout to qualify for this price)
||Returned Citizen Ticket Price
|Donate/purchase a ticket for a Returned Citizen to attend the symposium
||Friend Of Unlocking Doors®
||Client Intervention Sponsor
||Community Engagement Sponsor
||Smart On Crime Sponsor
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Make check(s) payable to "Unlocking DOORS" and send to:
or VIA INVOICE OR PURCHASE ORDER
c/o 2019 Symposium
12225 Greenville Avenue, Suite 850, Dallas, Texas 75243
Please contact Suzanne LaRash at
firstname.lastname@example.org (469) 587-7851
Are you a returned citizen wishing to attend the symposium
but cannot afford to do so?
Please contact Christina Melton Crain at email@example.com
Would you like to volunteer to assist with the symposium?
Have questions or need assistance?
Please contact Karen Zahaluk at firstname.lastname@example.org or (469) 587-7855
Have questions about Unlocking DOORS® 2019 Texas Reentry Symposium?
Contact unlocking doors.
Super Charge Your Talent Acquisition Plan by Hiring
Those with Criminal Backgrounds
By Christina Melton Crain, Esq. / The SHRM Blog
There is no doubt that the success of a company is determined by those it employs; thereby making acquisition of the appropriate and necessary talent a key priority for any business. However, with the job market tightening, employers are experiencing more difficulty in recruiting and hiring qualified employees; requiring companies to become creative with their hiring practices.
My suggestion – hire former offenders!
On a national scale, one in three American adults has some type of criminal record. More than 2 million Americans are in state and federal prisons. More than 95 percent of these individuals – nearly 700,000 each year – will one day be released from prison and face the challenges of reintegrating into our communities.
As an attorney who has founded/owned several businesses, I understand the reluctance a company may have in hiring such individuals – the fear of potential liability tops the list. But, according a national poll, the primary reason employers conduct applicant background checks is to reduce legal liability rather than to ensure a safe work environment (49 percent) or to assess trustworthiness (17 percent). These concerns lead employers to pass over qualified employees for less competent ones. A criminal record does not disqualify a candidate categorically; it simply limits a candidate’s ability to attain certain positions that may be the best match for his/her skillset.
Since nearly one-third of “working-age” Americans have a criminal record, dismissing those with a record means that companies are eliminating a big portion of the labor pool in their hiring processes. Employers are absolutely justified in wanting to hire trustworthy, responsible workers; however, with so many people with criminal records, it stands to reason that potentially valuable employees are being overlooked (Brennan Center for Justice).
My personal experience in working with former offenders has shown them to be highly motivated to excel in large part due to the gratefulness they feel towards the employer for giving them a chance. They are committed to working hard, driven by the need for a steady paycheck – the key to securing sustainable housing, transportation and other necessities. Felons can be brilliant and caring people; they just made a mistake. Employers should ask the person why he or she was incarcerated. If they committed a drug-related offense to feed their family, perhaps this is forgivable.
How can a business take advantage of this talent pool while limiting its risk?
One very simple but important way – work with a reentry program that will appropriately vet potential employee applicants and will be there to assist the company with any issues that may arise with the individual post-hiring.
Unlocking DOORS®, the nonprofit organization that I founded and run, is a nationally-unique reentry network platform that provides such services to any employer who agrees to offer employment to our clients. Through a one-of-a-kind process called Reentry Brokerage®, Unlocking DOORS® approaches the client and his/her needs in a holistic manner to assure best chances for a future of self-sufficiency that is crime free.
The key to this process is ensuring that the client has the four key barriers to successful reintegration satisfied – employment, housing, transportation and medical/mental health. These needs are intertwined and affect each other: a client may secure a job; however, without a place to sleep, a means of transport and good health, the individual will have a very difficult time sustaining the job. Working with a reentry organization, such as Unlocking DOORS®, will help ensure that a company receives appropriate client referrals that match the company’s needs, while providing an ongoing support system for the employer.
To maximize full impact when hiring former offenders, an employer should work closely with the reentry organization as follows:
- Provide the reentry organization with all specifics regarding the position you wish to fill – i.e., complete job description; uniform/equipment requirements; certification/training requirements.
- Provide the reentry organization with the company’s criminal justice guidelines – i.e., crimes that are prohibited.
- Provide the reentry organization complete salary/hourly pay/benefits information to pass along to the potential employee.
- Conduct a “national” criminal background check on the potential employee even if the reentry organization provides one. (Verification is always in style!)
- During the interview with a potential employee, focus your time on getting to know the individual as a whole – i.e., certifications, credentials, skills sets, training, work history, future desires, and aptitudes.
- Use “reasonable” as your standard in determining whether to hire or pass on a particular applicant. (No one can live up to “perfect” – criminal background or not!)
- Upon hiring a former offender, sign up for the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) and determine if your state also has a tax credit program though the National HIRE Network.
- Determine if the employer is eligible for the Federal Bonding Program.
So, hire a former offender – you might just find an excellent employee! Done the right way, the benefits your company will reap more than outweigh any perceived risk that may exist.