By Mianna Muscat
SAN FRANCISCO – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation awarded San Francisco a $2 million grant through the Safety and Justice Challenge, the Foundation’s $246 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration and promote racial equity in local criminal justice systems.
The Safety and Justice Challenge works with local leaders to attack what they see as America’s biggest cause of over-incarceration – the misuse and overuse of jails.
“Our continued partnership with the MacArthur Foundation will advance our office’s goal of eliminating unnecessary incarceration, which is especially harmful during the pandemic,” said San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin.
“Over-incarceration creates the danger of an outbreak in the jails and our broader communities—risking an epidemic within the pandemic,” Boudin added.
San Francisco has already seen significant improvements since the city was first selected to join the Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge Network in 2016.
San Francisco has implemented several evidence-based solutions to combat over-incarceration, including early bail review, pre-arrest diversion, and data-driven decision making. The city has also improved its connections to community based support organizations, such as behavioral health programs.
As a result, San Francisco’s jail population was reduced nearly 40 percent in 2020. This initiative also prevents the spread of COVID-19.
The Safety and Justice Challenge initiative also tackles racial injustice against Black, Indigenous, Latinx, and other people of color. For example, $2 million in grant funds allows the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office and its partners to address the primary causes of over-incarceration, and resulting racial inequities.
Proud of the city’s massive progress, San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto said, “The MacArthur grant has helped us map out the most efficient road to safely reduce the jail population while addressing racial disparities that have plagued our justice system.”
“The grant supports the Sheriff’s Office in analyzing jail trends and data on several fronts and helps to better inform effective policy. We are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for supporting our efforts and understanding the challenges we face as we work toward justice reform and equity for all,” said Sheriff Miyamoto.
Safety and Justice Challenge has continued to grow and spread influence since it’s public launch over five years ago. It currently has a network of 51 jurisdictions in 32 states working towards improving local justice systems throughout the country.
“We must confront the devastating impacts of mass incarceration by a system that over-polices and over-incarcerates Black, Indigenous, and Latinx people,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Criminal Justice.
She added, “We are committed to supporting cities and counties as they reimagine a definition of safety that is inclusive of all communities and makes meaningful progress towards our goal of ending racial and ethnic disparities in jails.”
Mianna is a senior at UC Davis studying English Literature and Japanese. She loves reading, archery, playing the guitar, and singing.
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