Vol. 21 | July 2022
Over the past few months, JAD had the opportunity to sit with some of our community partners, stakeholders, and colleagues to share thoughts on the value of JAD, collaboration, challenges, and opportunities to facilitate meaningful improvements in Harris County justice systems. In this edition of, In Progress, JAD would like to share with you this series of videos featuring Mike Lee, Assistant Chief, Harris County Sheriff's Department, Commander Caroleta Johnson, Houston Police Department, and member of the Racial Ethnic and Equity Committee with JAD, Chris Rivera, member of the Racial Ethnic and Equity Committee with JAD, and Jerry Garcia, Constable, Harris County Precinct 2.

The Harris County Justice Administration Department recently welcomed new team members to the department and we'd like for you to meet our new additions!

Dr. Arelia Johnson joined the JAD team in June as the Racial and Ethnic Disparities Administrator and will be working closely with the Racial and Ethnic Equity Committee and leading efforts in relation to race, ethnicity, and culture.

Dr. Arelia Johnson is a native Houstonian, a product of Worthing High School, and a two-time graduate of Texas Southern University. In 2020, Arelia graduated from Howard University with a doctorate in sociology and criminology. Her dissertation, “The Influence of Police Policies and Practices on the Reporting of Transgender Murder Victims from 2015-2018: A Critical Content Analysis”, focused on how law enforcement agents identified transgender victims of murder.

Dr. Johnson worked as a public-school teacher from 2008-2019 and taught in post-secondary institutions from 2017-2020. She is a certified juvenile probation officer, is a certified basic law enforcement instructor, a member of the Board of Directors for Tristar National Alliance for Sexual Health, and a member of Mayor Turner’s LGBTQ Advisory Board. She is a mother of two. 

Dr. Johnson is appreciative of the warm and welcoming environment that JAD has created.
JAD also welcomes, Robel Gebremichael. Robel joins JAD’s data team to aid with data & analytics for the department and Harris County.
"I not only was sold on the department’s mission but I truly got excited about the work the data team has done, is doing, and the great potential to even do more. " - stated Mr. Gebremichael.
Mr. Gebremichael recently moved here to Houston from Minnesota. He was born and raised in Addis Ababa, aka the capital of Africa. Fun fact: the country in which the city of Addis Ababa is located in is one of two African countries that were never colonized during the Scramble for Africa.

Professionally, he has over 15 years of experience in the Data & Analytics space across many industries such as Banking and Finance, Manufacturing, Retail, etc.
"I am very excited for the opportunity to be part of this great organization and I look forward to partnering with each and every one of you." said Mr. Gebremichael
On a more personal note - his family likes sports, going to the movies, hanging out, and having a good time.
Mr. Gebremichael said, "My favorite sport is Soccer and I like to play it on the weekends. Though it’s not the reason why I moved here, I’m excited about the news that Houston was selected to host the FIFA World Cup 2026!"
News & Information on Policy Work by JAD

Harris County Juvenile Probation Department (HCJPD) and the Harris County Justice Administration (JAD) enjoy a collaborative partnership with the goal of increasing public safety while assisting youth that is involved in the juvenile justice system with opportunities for a positive pathway to a pro-social future. This collaboration focuses on the prevention of youth entrance into the juvenile justice system and evidence-based interventions for involved youth so that involvement is short-term and isolated in occurrence. This coordinated partnership will ensure priority and equitable opportunities for communities impacted by youth incarceration are available. The Reinvestment Fund, which is a joint partnership between HCJPD and JAD, focuses on impacted communities to address racial disparities and improve public safety.
JAD is excited to announce that Iris Lewis of HCJPD will partner with JAD to work on the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund, and other juvenile justice initiatives. Ms. Lewis has over 20 years of experience of work in the juvenile justice system, with direct involvement with community-based organizations. Ms. Lewis’ knowledge and understanding of the needs of the community will aid in the success of the implementation of the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund and the sub-grantee organizations that will be funded. Ms. Lewis strongly believes that youth should remain in communities and maintain connections with families and this important need is possible through the support and growth of local community-based organizations. Iris is currently putting together the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund Advisory Group which will advise and inform Change Happens as they administer reinvestment fund monies. Ms. Lewis has put together a broad spectrum of community members from impacted families and youth to subject matter experts. The advisory group will convene its inaugural meeting at the end of July of this year. 
If you know of or are interested in applying for the Youth Justice Reinvestment Fund, please contact Hstagg@changehappenstxs.org, or you can contact Iris Lewis at iris.lewis@hcjpd.hctx.net.
On June 30th, Violence Prevention Services—in collaboration with Harris County Public Health, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Community Problem Oriented Policing unit (CPOP), Commissioner Rodney Ellis, and Commissioner Tom Ramsey—hosted a Gun Violence Awareness Month Community Health Fair at Lents Park (West) in Cypress Station.
This event assisted in helping me saturate this community with resources it needs to thrive and self-sustain. It helped positively change the mindset a community who has somehow lost hope and trust in law enforcement. This event aided in bringing positivity and appreciation to a community that feels they are forgotten. My hope is that this event and other work like it helps community feel cared for on every level." stated CPOP Deputy Ravin Washington
The fair included free food and giveaways and offered services related to violence prevention, family planning, emergency preparedness, resource navigation, vaccine resources, and more.

To learn more about CPOP visit their website.

JAD’s Intern, Madison Phillips, attended a Leadership Conference for debutantes with Jack and Jill of America, Inc. from July 29th through July 2nd.
Jack and Jill of America, Inc. is an organization formed in 1938 by African American mothers committed to building leadership skills in youth through volunteer work and civic duty. There are over 40,000 family members with 252 chapters separated by region all over the country. Phillips is in the Historic Houston Chapter, created in 1952 as the first chapter ever in the south Central Region. Phillips attended a 4-day conference as a Jack and Jill debutante to learn leadership through etiquette, involvement in the community, and meeting local known Black leaders.
One of the events Phillips was able to attend was Tea with former federal Judge Vanessa Gilmore. There, Judge Gilmore talked about being a Black woman in professional settings and how to make connections by having fun personal hobbies to relate with colleagues. She also spoke with Christiane Pendarvis, the Co-President and Chief Merchant for Savage x Fenty about her rise to success story, worked at the Houston Food Bank for community service, and attended an etiquette workshop at The Petroleum Club in downtown Houston.
Phillips is grateful for the opportunity to learn more about leadership through the organization and is excited to continue the debutante process. 

On June 16, 2022, the Responsive Interventions for Change (RIC) docket celebrated a major milestone by entering the 5000th Pre-Trial Intervention agreement. Judge Susan Brown and Judge Denise Bradley, both instrumental in starting the docket, were in attendance via zoom and the RIC team was present in the courtroom to celebrate the historic event.  

Congratulations to the RIC team on this major accomplishment. 

This docket targets low-level drug possession offenses of <4 grams or less.  The RIC team is made up of staff from the District Courts, Community Supervision and Corrections Department, District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, District Clerk’s Office, Defense Bar, Recovery Coaches, and The Harris Center for Mental Health & IDD, and Pretrial Services.

Recently, Commissioner Garcia and Precinct 2 were honored by the White House for their successes with workforce-related programs, including Employ2Empower (E2E). E2E is a homeless workforce program that aims to help unhoused people with reentry and getting on the path to get out of encampments and into permanent supportive housing. In addition, Harris County has prioritized other workforce programs highlighted in this video.
Judges to giveaway 100 backpacks with school supplies to children on Saturday, July 30.

Harris County criminal misdemeanor courts are hosting their third Fresh Start Resource Fair, this time in a new location and with expanded services for children and Spanish-speaking community members.
Free and open to the public, the late July fair will feature a variety of new resources, including help with immigration and citizenship issues, public library cards that double as photo IDs, COVID vaccines for anyone 6 months and up, mental health support, voter registration, and a backpack and school supplies giveaway for the first 100 kids in attendance.
“If we can address a person’s basic needs and help them get back on track, we have a real chance to break the cycle of recidivism,” said Judge Genesis Draper, presiding judge for the Harris County Criminal Courts at Law. “That benefits not only the person we’re helping but ultimately our entire community.”
Fresh Start helps eligible non-violent, low-level offenders get back on track after experiences with the criminal justice system by sealing their criminal records and connecting them to vital support services, such as job training, education, and help applying for benefits.

Attendees also can sign up for prescreening to see if they’re eligible to have their misdemeanor charges sealed. Prescreening is limited to the first 50 people. Once a charge is sealed, it doesn’t have to be disclosed publicly — on job or rental applications, for example — but can still be viewed by criminal justice agencies.

The next Fresh Start Resource Fair is set for Saturday, July 30, 2022, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Community Center at Victory International Church, 170 Rittenhouse St. in North Houston. For more information about Fresh Start and upcoming events, visit www.ccl.hctx.net/comcourt.htm.
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