(Lindenwold, NJ) – The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation today announced that Camden County is one of 12 additional jurisdictions joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national $148 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. Camden County and the other jurisdictions will design and test innovative local justice reforms designed to safely drive down jail usage and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their local justice systems.
Camden County was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from across the country.
“Over-incarceration is among the most impactful problems of our time and our country has yet to identify a truly workable solution,” said Freeholder Bill Moen. “The Safety and Justice Challenge is an opportunity for our community to play an integral role in the process of solving this key issue which overburdens our prisons and disproportionately affects families of racial and ethnic minorities.”
Through the Challenge’s Innovation Fund, Camden County will receive support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms.
“There is growing demand for criminal justice reform across the country, and local jurisdictions are leading the way,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Justice Reform. “MacArthur is increasing our investment in local just reform innovations because we are seeing promising results and an appetite for more reform as evidenced by the diversity and creativity of the solutions implemented and tested across the Network.”
Camden County and the other Innovation Fund jurisdictions will receive short-term support of $50,000 each, are eligible for future funding opportunities, and have access to the resources, peer learning opportunities, and expertise of the Safety and Justice Challenge Network. The Urban Institute, which is managing the Innovation Fund in partnership with the Foundation, will provide expert technical assistance to the jurisdictions as they implement their plans. Key learnings and resources emerging from the Innovation Fund will be shared with and beyond the justice reform field.
Congressman Donald Norcross talked about the benefits of the challenge for the county and how it will work in combination with other initiatives that have already paid dividends for local public safety.
“There are more jobs and educational opportunities in Camden City, and our communities are steadily becoming safer and more secure. Now, innovative programs like this will ensure that Camden keeps rising and leading the nation on improvements to our justice system,” Norcross said. “The trailblazing law enforcement progress in Camden is thanks to positive relationships between all levels of government, leaders of local institutions and nonprofit organizations. As Camden City builds upon New Jersey’s bail reform success, I look forward to working with partners in Camden, New Jersey and Congress to enact meaningful criminal justice reform that makes our system fair and effective.”
As in most jurisdictions, the Camden County Jail has a large percentage of inmates that enter the facility with mental health, substance abuse disorders, lack of education, employment and housing. To address this issue in the local justice system, the Camden County Jail will create a network of reentry specialists to serve as mentors for the previously incarcerated, provide training to criminal justice and community stakeholders to enhance opportunities for the jail population and create a reentry website and navigator to improve accessibility to resources and services.
Camden County will continue to place an emphasis on community engagement and collaboration among local law enforcement, corrections officials, prosecutors, defenders, judges, and other stakeholders in this work to test, innovate, and drive reform.
The Innovation Fund jurisdictions expand the Challenge’s reach into new states and deepen its work across the country. They include:
- Baltimore City, MD
- Bernalillo County, NM
- Camden County, NJ
- Cumberland County, ME
- Franklin County, OH
- Gwinnett County, GA
- Hennepin County, MN
- City of Long Beach, CA
- Norfolk County, MA
- Sangamon County, IL
- City of St. Louis, MO
- Tulsa County, OK
Information about the selected jurisdictions, as well as news, research, and events related to the Safety and Justice Challenge, will be published on www.SafetyandJusticeChallenge.org.
About the MacArthur Foundation
The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information about the Foundation’s criminal justice reform work can be found at www.macfound.org/criminaljustice.
About the Urban Institute
The nonprofit Urban Institute is dedicated to elevating the debate on social and economic policy. For nearly five decades, Urban scholars have conducted research and offered evidence-based solutions that improve lives and strengthen communities across a rapidly urbanizing world. Their objective research helps expand opportunities for all, reduce hardship among the most vulnerable, and strengthen the effectiveness of the public sector.