The Safety and Justice Challenge is reimagining and rebuilding local criminal justice systems — reducing jail incarceration and increasing equity for all.

America's Problem with Jails

Jails have become warehouses for people who are poor, lack housing, or suffer from mental illness or addiction. They starkly reflect America’s long history of racism.

Jails have almost 19x the number of annual admissions as prisons.

Three out of five people held in jail have not been convicted of any crime.

Nearly 75% of people in jail are there for nonviolent traffic, property, drug, or public order offenses.

Black people are jailed 
at almost 4x the rate of White Americans.

Jails are misused and overused in ways that damage families, devastate communities, and ultimately lead to more crime.

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Finding Solutions

The Safety and Justice Challenge invests in locally developed, equity-based solutions that take a balanced approach to protecting public safety, including:

Our goal is to:

Our goal is to support policies and practices that will safely reduce jail populations by 50% across all Safety and Justice Challenge jurisdictions by 2025 and eliminate racial inequities. We’re providing practical support and scaffolding to communities that are taking bold action in response to centuries of institutional and systemic racism, honoring the expertise of directly impacted communities, and working together to achieve transformational change.

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Our Network

Our Network of participating cities, counties, and states is tackling America’s jail crisis at the local level, implementing community-informed solutions that can be replicated across the country. Network members receive support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and include small communities and the biggest urban centers, with diverse perspectives leading to a range of approaches. These local leaders share solutions and lessons learned with each other and the public so all can do better.

57Counties, Cities, and States
16%of the nation's jail beds
22%network-wide jail incarceration reduction to date