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Franklin County Selected to Receive Grants to Design, Test Innovative Criminal Justice Reforms

Thursday, October 25, 2018
Contact: Tyler Lowry, Franklin County Commissioners, 614/525-6630
Marty Homan, Franklin County Commissioners, 614/525-5273

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced yesterday that Franklin 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. Franklin 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.
Franklin County was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from across the country.
“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.”
Through the Challenge’s Innovation Fund, Franklin County will receive support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms. Franklin County’s innovations will focus on increasing minority participation in specialized dockets and corresponding diversion and treatment efforts.
“As Franklin County grows and becomes increasingly diverse, we welcome opportunities to examine, plan, and implement strategies and policies that address disparities, and provide equity and fairness within our criminal justice system,” said Commissioner Marilyn Brown, chair of the Franklin County Criminal Justice Planning Board and Franklin County Reentry Coalition.
Franklin 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.
The Franklin County Board of Commissioners Office of Justice Policy and Programs, along with the Franklin County Municipal Court Specialty Dockets, 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.
“We are grateful the MacArthur Foundation has chosen us a new innovation site,” said Judge Daniel Hawkins, Chair of the Specialized Docket Committee of the Franklin County Municipal Court. “We know treatment courts work, and we hope this grant will help us address the racial disparity in our judicial system. We believe that, through a combination of treatment and accountability, all people can be restored and become outstanding residents.”
“This grant will help us continue the work of improving the criminal justice system in Franklin County by addressing racial disparities while also increasing public safety and saving tax dollars,” said Franklin County Board of Commissioners President Kevin L. Boyce.
“Our thanks to the MacArthur Foundation for believing in the work we have been doing and want to continue in Franklin County to transform our criminal justice system to provide equity and fairness to all,” said Franklin County Commissioner John O’Grady.
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
For more information on the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, log on to:
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
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.

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