Improving Local Jails

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation  announced, as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, nearly $25 million in support for plans to create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country.  The grants are part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative supported by the Foundation with an initial $75 million to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

The Challenge is establishing a network of jurisdictions to model and inspire effective local criminal justice reforms across the country. Last May, MacArthur chose 20 jurisdictions for initial grants and expert counsel to develop plans for reform after a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from nearly 200 jurisdictions in 45 states and territories. All 20 of these Safety and Justice Challenge Network jurisdictions will be eligible for further funding. Depending on continued commitment and significant progress, sites receiving implementation awards will be eligible for additional funding after the initial two years. The remaining jurisdictions are encouraged to sustain their momentum for reform and will be considered for implementation support in 2017.


The Foundation is awarding 11 jurisdictions grants between $1.7 million and $3.5 million over two years to reduce their jail populations and to address racial and ethnic disparities in their justice systems. The jurisdictions include:

  • Charleston County, SC
  • Harris County, TX
  • Lucas County, OH
  • Milwaukee County, WI
  • New Orleans, LA
  • New York City, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Pima County, AZ
  • St. Louis County, MO
  • Spokane County, WA
  • State of Connecticut

Additionally, nine jurisdictions are receiving $150,000 grants to continue their reform efforts: Ada County, ID; Cook County, IL; Los Angeles County, CA; Mecklenburg County, NC; Mesa County, CO; Multnomah County, OR; Palm Beach County, FL; Pennington County, SD; and Shelby County, TN. (Click through to more information –


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