As part of its new prison reform strategy, Arnold Ventures has announced grants totaling $17 million in support of efforts to improve prison conditions.
A $10 million grant to the Urban Institute will support Urban's five-year, four-state Prison Research and Innovation Initiative, through which prisons and researchers will collaborate on data- and evidence-based innovations in prison design, operations, and culture; test new policies and interventions; and develop key metrics in the areas of prisoner health and safety. And a $7 million grant will enable the Vera Institute of Justice, in partnership with the MILPA Collective, to expand its Restoring Promise initiative by opening radically reimagined housing units in three additional state corrections agencies as well as assessing the impact of the Restoring Promise model.
"This initiative will shine a much-needed light on the profound impact conditions of confinement have on the ability to support rehabilitation behind bars," said Nancy La Vigne, vice president of justice policy at the Urban Institute. "By bringing new data and evidence to bear, we can instill transparency and accountability in the prison sector and promote the well-being of all who live and work there."
The grants are part of Arnold Ventures' newly launched strategy in support of efforts to safely reduce the U.S. prison populations, increase data and research on prison systems, reorient prison cultures and conditions to support human potential and dignity, and improve preparation for successful reentry. The organization announced grants and research funding as part of that effort, including a grant to the Justice Policy Institute to capture lessons learned from the Young Men Emerging unit at the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, and a grant to the Ladies of Hope Ministries in support of its Faces of Women Imprisoned, a program designed to elevate the stories of formerly incarcerated women and end mass incarceration.
"We have a moral, political, and fiscal responsibility to fundamentally change our country's approach to incarceration," said Arnold Ventures' executive vice president of criminal justice Jeremy Travis. "Thanks to significant efforts over decades by advocates, researchers, and practitioners, systematic change has never felt more within reach. For that reason, as the reform movement continues to make critical strides toward ending mass incarceration, it's vital that we also shine a light on what's happening inside prisons and commit to transforming cultures and conditions."