People arrested by the 16 law enforcement agencies in Travis County are generally booked into the Travis County jail. Black residents account for 23% of people booked into jail, but only 8% of Travis County’s adult population, which indicates a high level of disproportionate representation and a disproportionality ratio of 2.8. This level of disproportionality has been relatively constant over time.
Disproportionality ratios are classified as follows: Comparable Representation (rates under 1.50), Moderate Disproportion (rates between 1.50-2.49), High Disproportion (rates between 2.50-3.49), and Extreme Disproportion (rates of 3.50 and over).
Black students are 5.9 times more likely than Whites and 1.8 times more likely than Hispanics to be removed from Austin Independent School District classrooms to Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEP). African-American students are moderately over-represented in DAEP placements.
In 2013, Austin ISD changed its approach to discretionary removals, leading to a slight decline in the disproportionality ratio from 2.4 in the 2013-2014 school year to 2.2 in the most recent data.
The disproportionality ratio is calculated by dividing the representation of each racial and ethnic group removed from AISD classrooms to DAEP by their representation in the general student population.
Black children in Travis County are more likely to experience child abuse or neglect than other groups. In Fiscal Year 2017, African-American children in Travis County made up about 23% of confirmed victims of child abuse or neglect, compared to about 8% of the total population under 18. This results in a disproportionality ratio of 3.0, indicating a high level of over-representation.
The disproportionality ratio is calculated by dividing the representation of each racial and ethnic group’s confirmed victims of child abuse and neglect by their representation in the county’s child population. Disproportionality ratios are classified as follows: Comparable Representation (rates under 1.50), Moderate Disproportion (rates between 1.50-2.49), High Disproportion (rates between 2.50-3.49), and Extreme Disproportion (rates of 3.50 and over).
Disproportionality among those who are experiencing homelessness reveals the greatest level of disproportionality found for any of the CAN Dashboard indicators. Blacks are over five times more likely than Whites to experience homelessness in Travis County. Blacks are disproportionately overrepresented among the 4,717 people who received homeless services and who were assessed through the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition’s Coordinated Assessments. In Fiscal Year 2018, the disproportionality ratio for Blacks was 4.3 which indicates an extreme disproportion of overrepresentation.
Hispanics are highly overrepresented among adults with no high school diploma. In 2017, people identifying as Hispanic or Latino accounted for about 71% of people with less than a high school diploma, but only about 29% of the total population over 25 years of age. This results in a disproportionality ratio of 2.5, indicating high disproportion.
African-Americans are moderately overrepresented among adults who are high school graduates, but have not gone on to pursue post-secondary education. In 2017, people identifying as Black or African-American Alone made up about 15% of adults over 25 with a high school diploma (or equivalent), but about 8% of the total population aged 25 and over. This results in a disproportionality ratio of 1.9, indicating moderate disproportion.
In 2017, there were lower number of Black and Hispanic residents living below Federal Poverty Thresholds, but poverty continues to impact Hispanic and Black residents more than Asian and White residents.
Approximately 10,000 more residents were insured in 2017 than 2016 in Travis County, thanks in large part to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite gains, Hispanics are still less likely to have health insurance than other races or ethnicities. According to the Migration Policy Institute, an estimated 6.7% of the population in Travis County are undocumented immigrants, and 71% of those undocumented immigrants do not have health insurance. Overall, Hispanics are 3.4 times more likely than Whites to be uninsured in Travis County. In 2017, people identifying as Hispanic or Latino accounted for about 64% of people under 65 lacking health insurance, but only 36% of the total population under 65. This results in a disproportionality ratio of 1.6, indicating a moderate level of disproportion.
CAN has worked with local leaders to facilitate dialogue on cultural competency, diversity, and inclusion. In 2013, CAN developed the Cultural Competency, Diversity, and Inclusion Toolkit to connect local organizations with free resources to improve cultural competency, diversity, and inclusion. CAN has also worked to host dialogues and trainings for local leaders on these issues. In 2015, CAN hosted four training sessions, specifically designed for senior staff from CAN’s 28 partner agencies. CAN also released results of a Language Access Survey and continues to convene meetings of local stakeholders to consider how they can collaborate and share resources to better meet the language needs of our community’s diversifying population.
Building Bridges: Brick by Brick is a steering committee created by former Sheriff Greg Hamilton and Rev. Mike Manor. The committee’s goal is to create meaningful and sustainable conversations between neighborhoods, churches, communities and law enforcement.
The Texas Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities, under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, was created in 2011 as a result of Senate Bill 501. The Center is using a comprehensive approach that cuts across systems to reduce disparate outcomes for vulnerable populations. The Center also provides free trainings in racial bias to communities and organizations.
Undoing Racism Austin brings together a diverse group of stakeholders to address issues of disproportionality and provide resources and training.
Changes to state law have limited the extent to which students may receive tickets for Class C misdemeanor offenses while on school grounds. Locally, school districts and law enforcement agencies have worked to implement this law and reduce the number of students ticketed while maintaining safe campuses. The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition summarizes the changes that began for the 2013-2014 school year here. According to data reported by the Texas Office of Court Administration, in the first school year after implementation, courts across the state experienced an 83% drop in court filings for Class C misdemeanor violations that fall under the Education Code.
Austin Independent School District’s Cultural Proficiency and Inclusiveness department, part of the Department of Social and Emotional Learning, works to promote these principles within the district. The department provides professional learning opportunities for staff to enhance their ability to serve a diverse school community.
Local law enforcement entities have implemented multiple outreach strategies to work with minority youth in the community including utilizing school resource officers, Police Activity Leagues, Police Explorer programs, and prevention activities associated with the Joint Juvenile Gang Unit (Austin Police Department, Travis County Sheriff’s Office and AISD).