Eight counties have been awarded additional funding to continue their work to create fairer, more effective local justice systems as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge. The Safety and Justice Challenge is a national initiative supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to reduce overincarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. This most recent investment of $11.3 million will provide additional support as the counties, cities and states supported by the Challenge aim to reduce local jail populations by 18 to 30 percent by 2019. NACo is proud to work with and support the 40 jurisdictions involved in the Safety and Justice Challenge and to be part of the movement to rethink jails.
These eight counties were awarded additional funding to support their continued progress toward safely reducing jail populations by eliminating unfair or ineffective practices that take a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health and substance abuse issues. NACo looks forward to supporting these communities as they model reforms to create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country. The selected counties and proposed strategies are:
- Ada County, Idaho: Ada County will utilize its Behavioral Health Community Crisis Center to divert “high utilizers” and people who are in a mental health or substance-related crisis into proper programs. The county will also expand pretrial release and begin a release-on-recognizance project.
- Cook County, Ill.: Cook County will implement an automated court reminder system to reduce failures to appear in court. The county will also implement police deflection and diversion tactics in neighborhoods that are highly impacted by incarceration and coordinate these efforts with community outreach efforts.
- Los Angeles County, Calif.: Los Angeles County will fund legal identification cards and transportation to prearranged treatment and/or housing placements for individuals leaving custody. The county will also select and develop a validated risk assessment tool for release evaluation of pretrial defendants while exploring the expanded use of pretrial supervision.
- Mecklenburg County, N.C.: Mecklenburg County will improve its bail-setting policies by providing less restrictive release conditions for defendants who are charged with Class 3 Misdemeanors. Mecklenburg County will also engage communities by partnering with neighborhoods to identify and implement community-led programs.
- Multnomah County, Ore.: Multnomah County will institute Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and increase the use of cite and release. The county will also create mental health alternative placements and supports for women and decrease jail stays for inmates held by pretrial policy holds.
- Palm Beach County, Fla.: Palm Beach County will address racial and ethnic disparities through implicit bias education and continuation of its Community Engagement Task Force. The county will also create a text message-based court data notification system to reduce failure-to-appear warrants.
- Pennington County, S.D.: Pennington County will increase pretrial diversion by using pretrial electronic monitoring, refining its use of the Public Safety Assessment, continuing its cite and release and Safe Solutions facility pilot and expanding the Young Adult Diversion Program. The county will also conduct tribal outreach specifically on reservations.
- Shelby County, Tenn.: Shelby County will reduce case processing times, using data to develop solutions to resolve system delays; enhance its use of a pretrial risk assessment and release decision-making framework; implementing a new jail-based behavioral health screening tool and increasing staffing in the Behavioral Health Unit; and consolidating misdemeanor citation processing and court appearance dates. The county will also develop objective indigence assessment to provide earlier assignment of counsel.
To learn more about the work these counties and other jurisdictions are doing as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge click here or contact Kathy Rowings at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join the conversation on social media using the hashtag #RethinkJails.