Bringing Communities Together to Advance Local Criminal Justice Reform

MacArthur Foundation
3 min readJul 26, 2022


The Safety and Justice Challenge is bringing together communities across the country to further efforts to reimagine and rebuild local criminal justice systems to reduce jail incarceration and eliminate racial disparities.

In one of the largest expansions of the initiative since it began, the Safety and Justice Challenge is launching eight new networks that include 42 jurisdictions representing 21 states. These new groups–which include both geographic- and topic-focused networks–include 17 jurisdictions that have not previously participated in the Safety and Justice Challenge. Each network will provide participating communities with peer learning opportunities and expert guidance to help accelerate their reform efforts.

The new networks build on several other recently-launched groups within the Safety and Justice Challenge, including the Racial Equity Cohort, which is working to create new models for how cities and counties can eliminate racial and ethnic inequities in their local criminal justice systems, and the IMPACT Network, which focuses on reforms that reduce the number of people with behavioral health conditions involved in their local criminal justice system. Additionally, MacArthur in partnership with the Urban Institute launched the Just Home Project, which seeks to break the links between housing instability and jail incarceration.

State Networks

Each of the four new state networks will give participating communities a chance to learn from others’ reform experiences. It will also allow cities and counties to collaborate around the opportunities and challenges presented by their state’s criminal justice policies and court decisions.


City of Long Beach, Los Angeles County, City and County of San Francisco, San Joaquin County, Santa Barbara County, Santa Clara County, and Santa Cruz County


East Baton Rouge Parish and New Orleans


Buncombe County, Mecklenburg County, Orange County, and Robeson County


Allegheny County, Bucks County, Lehigh County, and Philadelphia

Topic-Focused Networks

These networks bring together jurisdictions from across the country for peer learning and expert guidance to help them take deeper action around a specific reform topic.


Case processing delays, which have increased during the pandemic, have contributed to the overuse of jails and to racial and ethnic disparities in the jail population. The Case Processing Network will share successful reform strategies to address this problem and enhance the reform work already underway in communities participating in the Safety and Justice Challenge.

Participating communities: Buncombe County, NC; Camden County, NJ; East Baton Rouge Parish, LA; Lake County, IL; Lucas County, OH; Maricopa County, AZ; Minnehaha County, SD; New Orleans, LA; Pennington County, SD; and St. Louis County, MO


The Pretrial Equity Transformation Network will bring together cities and counties to explore strategies that reduce the number of people booked into the jail and the length of stay pretrial through the critical examination of the intersections of race.

Participating communities: Albuquerque, NM; Bernalillo County, NM; Clark County, NV; East Baton Rouge Parish, LA; Erie County, NY; Fresno County, CA; Johnson County, KS; Lake County, IL; Los Angeles County, CA; Minnehaha County, SD; Missoula County, MT; Multnomah County, OR; Pima County, AZ; St. Louis County, MO; Santa Cruz County, CA; Shelby County, TN; and Winona County, MN


The Probation Practice to Reduce Jail Populations Network will bring together cities and counties to share strategies to reduce the use of jail as a response to violations of probation and to mitigate inequity in that use.

Participating communities: Allegheny County, PA; Clark County, WA; Douglas County, KS; Howard County/West Texas Centers; St. Louis County, MO; Santa Clara County, CA; State of Georgia; and Summit County, OH


The Wičhóyaŋke Network will convene Indigenous leaders from the community and the criminal justice system to share their lived experience of implementing strategies to help overcome racial disparities within the criminal justice system.

Participating communities: Alameda County, CA; Bernalillo County, NM; Hennepin County, MN; Missoula County, MT; Pennington County, SD; and Pima County, AZ



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