Spokane County chosen for MacArthur funding to reduce jail use

Spokane County chosen for MacArthur funding to reduce jail use

The MacArthur Foundation announced Wednesday morning that Spokane County has been selected to receive a $150,000 as part of an initiative to improve local criminal justice systems.

Spokane County was one of 20 jurisdictions chosen from over 200 applications across the country. A rigorous process will now begin to develop a plan to reduce over-incarceration in county jails.

The grants are part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, the Foundation’s $75 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the ways America thinks about and uses jails. Once these jurisdictions develop their plans, 10 of the 20 jurisdictions will be selected in 2016 to receive additional funding. This funding will be between $500,000 to $2 million annually to implement their plans for reform.

The 20 jurisdictions range from large cities including New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Houston, to small localities like Mesa County, CO and Pennington County, SD, as well as the State of Connecticut. Together, all 20 jurisdictions represent 11% of the nation’s jails capacity. Because of this, the initiative has the opportunity to impact a large proportion of today’s jail population, as well as pioneer evidence-based alternatives to incarceration that other jurisdictions can adopt and implement.

“Nearly 200 diverse jurisdictions responded to our challenge, reflecting nationwide interest in reducing over-incarceration,” and Julia Stasch, President of the MacArthur Foundation. “Each of the sites selected has demonstrated the motivation, collaboration, and commitment needed to make real change in their local justice systems. The aim is that local efforts will model effective and safe alternatives to the incarceration status quo for the rest of the country.”

The MacArthur foundation noted that despite growing national attention to the large number of Americans confined in state and federal prisons, significantly less attention has been paid to local justice systems, where the criminal justice system primarily operates and where over-incarceration begins. Jail populations have more than tripled since the 1980s, as have cumulative expenditures related to building and running them.

Several of the nation’s leading criminal justice organizations will provide technical assistance and counsel to Spokane County and the other 19 jurisdictions as they prepare their plans for local reform.

In alphabetical order, the 20 jurisdiction are:

Ada County, ID

Charleston County, SC

Cook County, IL

Harris County, TX

Los Angeles County, CA

Lucas County, OH

Mecklenburg County, NC

Mesa County, CO

Milwaukee County, WI

Multnomah County, OR

New Orleans, LA

New York City, NY

Palm Beach County, FL

Pennington County, SD

Philadelphia, PA

Pima County, AZ

St. Louis County, MO

Shelby County, TN

Spokane County, WA

State of Connecticut