About the Challenge

Mission

The Safety and Justice Challenge is providing support to local leaders from across the country who are determined to tackle one of the greatest drivers of over-incarceration in America—the misuse and overuse of jails.

These leaders—representing different cities, counties, and states with unique issues and situations—understand that this crisis took years to create and that only forward-thinking, smart solutions developed and implemented from the ground up will end it.

With an initial five-year, $100 million investment by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, jurisdictions selected through a competitive process receive financial and technical support in their efforts to rethink justice systems and implement data-driven strategies to safely reduce jail populations.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge recognizes that there are better, fairer, and more effective alternatives to excessive jail incarceration. Key to beginning and sustaining reform efforts is an understanding of how jail use has changed, and what impacts this growth has had on individuals, communities, and the economy.

For local leaders involved in the Challenge, this means a commitment to identifying the drivers of over-incarceration within their cities, counties, and states; engaging a diverse set of community stakeholders to determine ways to address local drivers of over-incarceration and improve the system as a whole; and building infrastructure to track the right data and measure performance over time.

Jurisdictions participating in the Challenge will develop and model effective ways to keep people out of jail who don’t belong there, more effectively reintegrate those who must be confined into the community upon release, and help them stay out of jail thereafter. In doing so, they will demonstrate alternatives to incarceration as usual, creating models for reducing unnecessary jail use to make communities healthier, fairer, and safer. 

Safety and Justice Challenge Launch

February 11, 2015

New Approaches

Every community in America can safely reduce its use of incarceration while reserving valuable criminal justice resources for those who pose significant risks to public safety. Strategies to reduce local jail use include:

1
Policing practices that limit unnecessary custodial arrests;
2
Early screening and assignment of counsel;
3
Pretrial detention decision-making that focuses on assessments of safety and flight risk, not ability to pay;
4
Diversion options that hold offenders accountable without separating them from their jobs and families;
5
Booking, arraignment, case screening, and processing procedures that shorten jail stays by reducing procedural delays; and
6
Reentry practices that better prepare inmates for release and reintegration and serve to reduce reoffending.

Partners

Partners are organizations that provide Challenge Network sites with technical assistance, data analysis, and performance measurement.

Strategic Allies

Allies help the initiative communicate with important stakeholder groups whose support is needed.

The Safety and Justice Challenge is supported by

These leaders—representing different cities, counties, and states with unique issues and situations—understand that this crisis took years to create and that only forward-thinking, smart solutions developed and implemented from the ground up will end it.

With an initial five-year, $100 million investment by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, jurisdictions selected through a competitive process receive financial and technical support in their efforts to rethink justice systems and implement data-driven strategies to safely reduce jail populations.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge recognizes that there are better, fairer, and more effective alternatives to excessive jail incarceration. Key to beginning and sustaining reform efforts is an understanding of how jail use has changed, and what impacts this growth has had on individuals, communities, and the economy.

For local leaders involved in the Challenge, this means a commitment to identifying the drivers of over-incarceration within their cities, counties, and states; engaging a diverse set of community stakeholders to determine ways to address local drivers of over-incarceration and improve the system as a whole; and building infrastructure to track the right data and measure performance over time.

Jurisdictions participating in the Challenge will develop and model effective ways to keep people out of jail who don’t belong there, more effectively reintegrate those who must be confined into the community upon release, and help them stay out of jail thereafter. In doing so, they will demonstrate alternatives to incarceration as usual, creating models for reducing unnecessary jail use to make communities healthier, fairer, and safer. 

“Unfair, ineffective and inefficient justice systems do not increase public safety or the well-being of individuals and their communities. They are inconsistent with American ideals.”

Julia Stasch

President, MacArthur Foundation