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Commissioners extend deadline on adult correctional systems report

Thursday, August 12, 2021 by Seth Smalley

The Travis County Commissioners Court unanimously voted to grant a 45-day extension to a forthcoming report about the Travis County adult correctional system. The report is being prepared by a collaborative group including Justice Planning, Health and Human Services, and the Sheriff’s Office.

Commissioners passed a resolution on June 15 directing the report, in response to public backlash against a plan to spend money on revamping the county jail. At the time, advocates called for the county to instead spend the money – which was part of a $600 million master plan – on jail diversion, preventive measures and social programs.

“Our original deadline was Aug. 15, which meant we would have had to bring that report back to you today. Due to a series of extenuating circumstances and scheduling, we are requesting an extension so that we can make sure we’re bringing you the best product possible,” said Christy Moffett, interim director of Economic Development and Strategic Investments.

Moffett asked if the deadline could be extended to Sept. 30.

Commissioner Margaret Gómez moved to approve the extension and Commissioner Ann Howard seconded the motion.

“We’re in budget season and we have the federal funds to invest in the community … whether it’s adding competency restoration beds or more mental health services in the community,” Howard said, calling on the court to look at freeing up American Rescue Plan Act funds for this purpose.

Commissioner Jeffrey Travillion pointed out that the organization Moffett works with is not fully staffed and proposed assisting it, “whether internally or externally” in coming up with effective policy decisions. He also had some suggestions about the report, calling for it to lay out the information in the form of discrete tasks with goals that can be clearly assigned to specific groups to complete.

“What I really want to see is a project plan. What are we looking for exactly? What is the problem we’re trying to solve? And what are the resources that we’re putting in to solve that problem?” Travillion said, going on to mention the concerns expressed by the public at the June 15 meeting.

“I think I heard from the community that it was not interested in seeing a lot of different programming on the inside, and that it is much more interested in seeing programming on the outside,” Travillion told commissioners.

County Judge Andy Brown proposed that related deadlines also be extended 45 days. “We could maybe make this a friendly amendment, just so we don’t get bunched up, and so that Christy has plenty of time to do this; can we say all the other deadlines are also extended by 45 days?”

The motion passed unanimously.

Editor’s Note: Andy Brown is on the board of the Capital of Texas Media Foundation, the parent nonprofit of the Austin Monitor.

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