Grant is part of $75M initiative to increase innovation in local criminal justice systems

Philadelphia, May 27, 2015 – The City of Philadelphia is one of 20 jurisdictions across the country selected to receive a $150,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to create a more fair and effective local justice system. The grant is a part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, the Foundation’s $75 million initiative to reduce incarceration rates by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. The City of Philadelphia will use the funding to enhance programs with the Philadelphia Prison System that reduce jail time and recidivism.

“I am honored that the City of Philadelphia was chosen to receive this prestigious grant,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.  “During my Administration we have sought to increase public safety be working with our partners like the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the Criminal Justice Advisory Board (CJAB) to find alternatives to incarceration for low-level offenders, reduce recidivism by increasing opportunities for returning citizens and keep truly dangerous, violent criminals off our streets.  The MacArthur Foundation grant will help us continue this work to make Philadelphia a safe place for all residents in their homes, on the streets and in their schools or places of work.”

The City of Philadelphia was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from nearly 200 jurisdictions in 45 states. The Safety and Justice Challenge competition supports municipalities across the country seeking to create more just and effective local justice systems that improve public safety, save taxpayer money, and yield better outcomes. The 20 jurisdictions selected will work with expert consultants to develop a plan for local justice system improvement. In 2016, as many as 10 of these jurisdictions will receive a second round of funding – between $500,000 to $2 million annually – to implement their plans over two years.

The Honorable Sheila Woods-Skipper, President Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, said, “This is an amazing opportunity for the City of Philadelphia to implement data-driven practices which encourage prison population management and reform.  We have worked collaboratively for a number of years through CJAB to address these challenges and I look forward to continued partnership so that we may accomplish even more.”

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 incarceration begins. Jail populations have more than tripled since the 1980s, as have cumulative expenditures related to building and running jail systems.  According to recent research from the Vera Institute of Justice, nearly 75 percent of the population of both sentenced offenders and pretrial detainees are in jail for nonviolent offenses such as traffic, property, drug, or public order violations. Further, low-income individuals and communities of color disproportionately experience the negative consequences of incarceration.

Information about the selected jurisdictions can be found at

Posted in Mayor's Press Releases, Press Release
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