MacArthur’s Safety And Justice Challenge Announces Additional $11.3 Million For Eight Jurisdictions To Advance Local Criminal Justice Reform

October 4, 2017

New Funding Will Allow Counties, Cities to Build on Encouraging Progress of $100+ Million Nationwide Initiative

Chicago, IL, October 4, 2017 – Building on momentum in local criminal justice reform across the country, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced a new round of $11.3 million in funding to eight counties as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge, a more than $100 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. Since joining the Challenge, sites as diverse as Philadelphia; Lucas County, Ohio; Charleston County, South Carolina; and Multnomah County, Oregon have already seen significant declines in their average daily jail populations, and many of the Challenge sites are seeing early impacts of changes designed to create fairer, more effective justice systems that protect public safety.

Two years after its public launch, the Safety and Justice Challenge Network has grown into a collaborative of counties, cities, and states modeling and inspiring reforms to create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country. The Challenge is providing support to local leaders who are determined to tackle a fundamental driver of over-incarceration in America – the misuse and overuse of jails. Network members are already yielding promising initial results toward safely reducing jail populations and expanding alternatives to incarceration, and by 2019, the cities, counties, and states supported by the Challenge aim to reduce their local jail populations by 18 to 30 percent.

The jurisdictions selected to participate in the Safety and Justice Challenge first received funding in 2015 to develop comprehensive plans for their local justice systems that eliminate unfair and ineffective or inefficient practices that take a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health and substance abuse issues. Today’s new round of funding deepens the Foundation’s commitment and investment in eight Challenge sites that have shown promise and progress, offering them additional support and expert technical assistance to implement those plans. The eight sites join ten other Challenge jurisdictions already receiving deep investment from the Foundation to implement local reform, and 20 sites receiving support for a single innovative project or program. Additional funding opportunities for jurisdictions in and out of the Challenge Network will be announced next year.

The eight jurisdictions receiving additional funding are:


Their locally-driven strategies will extend through all aspects of the criminal justice system, from crisis intervention to behavioral health to pretrial release and supervision, and include:

  • Pre-arrest and pre-trial diversion strategies;
  • Improvements to case processing efficiency; and
  • Enhanced services for people with mental illness or substance abuse issues involved with the justice system.

“We are encouraged by the promise of the Network’s results to date, and the long-term benefits that reforms will yield for individuals, families, and communities,” said Laurie Garduque, Director for Justice Reform for the Foundation. “Leaders from these jurisdictions are proving that everyone benefits when local justice systems are made to be fairer, to responsibly steward taxpayer dollars, and to safely improve outcomes for families and communities. Given the promise of these efforts, other local leaders should take notice of the solutions being piloted by the cities, counties, and states supported by the Challenge and begin rethinking jails in their own jurisdictions.”

“The overarching goal of our work is to eliminate unnecessary incarceration, and our participation in the Safety and Justice Challenge has been crucial in helping us make headway toward this goal,” said Deborah Kafoury, Chair of the Board of Commissioners for Multnomah County, Oregon, one of the jurisdictions receiving additional funding to implement reform strategies. “This additional support will help us continue this work, while also pushing our justice reform efforts further, including developing a robust program for women grappling with mental health challenges to offer them the cultural, gender-specific, and trauma-informed services they need.”

Several of the nation’s leading criminal justice organizations will continue to provide technical assistance and counsel to the jurisdictions: the Center for Court Innovation, the Institute for State and Local Governance at the City University of New York, the Justice Management Institute, Justice System Partners, the Pretrial Justice Institute, the Vera Institute of Justice, Policy Research, Inc., and the W. Haywood Burns Institute.


About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information about the Foundation’s criminal justice reform work can be found at

Media Contact:
Meredith Klein
(312) 516-1557