The MacArthur Foundation has put out a request for proposals from jurisdictions who want to reduce their imprisoned populations. Its Safety and Justice Challenge will invest $75 million over five years “in local reform, research, experimentation, and communications in an effort to create national demand for local justice reform as a means of reducing over-incarceration in America.” The foundation announced the initiative Wednesday.
The news comes on the heels of a new February report from The Vera Institute of Justice called “Incarceration’s Front Door: The Misuse of Jails in America.” It’s a must read for people interested in seeing serious prison reform.
“Intended to house only those deemed to be a danger to society or a flight risk before trial, jails have become massive warehouses primarily for those too poor to post even low bail or too sick for existing community resources to manage,” the report says.
Being detained is often the beginning of a journey through the criminal justice system that can take many wrong turns. Just a few days in jail can increase the likelihood of a sentence of incarceration and the harshness of that sentence, reduce economic viability, promote future criminal behavior, and worsen the health of those who enter—making jail a gateway to deeper and more lasting involvement in the criminal justice system at considerable costs to the people involved and to society at large.