Jails open the “front door of mass incarceration,” and cities have opportunities to reduce the number of people entering jail. Cities can take measures such as providing local law enforcement with better tools and alternatives to arrest, supporting community-based alternatives to jails, and creating supports for people returning from incarceration.
The NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families’ (YEF Institute) is announcing five cities selected to participate in a technical assistance initiative to reduce jail populations through city leadership. The cities that will participate in the Jails and Justice Project are:
- Birmingham, Alabama
- Gainesville, Florida
- Madison, Wisconsin
- St. Louis, Missouri
- Savannah, Georgia
Support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge makes this project possible, as part of a national movement to change the way America thinks about and uses jails.
NLC recognizes that city leaders have a core responsibility to improve public safety, and have opportunities to reduce the harm caused by current jail policies.
“City leaders have an important stake in reducing the number of people held in local jails. We are excited to see the efforts already underway in the five selected cities and look forward to helping them take the next steps in preventing the overuse of jails,” said Clifford Johnson, executive director of the YEF Institute.
Cities will save money by reducing the unnecessary use of first responder and jail resources. In return, those who are kept out the criminal justice system will have better employment, education and recidivism outcomes.
About the author: Tara Dhanraj is a Senior Associate for Justice Reform at the NLC Institute for Youth, Education, and Families.