The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation has announced grants totaling $8.1 million in support of efforts to reduce over-incarceration.
Awarded through the foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge, which is designed to help change the way America thinks about and uses jails, the grants will provide additional support for efforts already under way in Cook County, Illinois ($2.5 million); Mecklenburg County, North Carolina ($1 million); Multnomah County, Oregon ($2 million); Palm Beach County, Florida ($1.4 million); and Pennington County, South Dakota ($1.2 million). Among other things, the jurisdictions will use the grants to build on work aimed at eliminating local criminal justice practices that disproportionately affect people of color and low-income communities; process cases more efficiently; and enhance pretrial services and alternatives to incarceration for people experiencing mental illness, substance use issues, or homelessness.
Initially launched in 2015 as a $75 million initiative, the Safety and Justice Challenge has awarded more than $217 million in grants over the last five years, while the affiliated Safety and Justice Challenge Network has grown into a collaborative of fifty-one jurisdictions in thirty-two states dedicated to modeling and bringing about criminal justice reform.
"The Safety and Justice Challenge has been crucial in helping us make headway as we work to eliminate over-representation of Native Americans in our local justice system in Pennington County," said Liz Hassett, South Dakota's grant manager for the Safety and Justice Challenge. "This additional grant support will help us continue to engage and rebuild trust with local tribal communities as we work to create a fairer and more effective local justice system."