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Criminal Justice


More than two million people are held in American prisons and jails – the largest inmate population in the world. The number is growing daily, largely because of harsh federal and state sentencing laws and unnecessary jail detention of people awaiting trial in counties across the country. Most significantly, more than 60 percent of the people in prison are now racial and ethnic minorities. Locking up increasing numbers of people – disproportionately people of color – at great expense to taxpayers, and later releasing them with little access to rehabilitation and drug treatment services, has not made our streets safe.

The Foundation’s Criminal Justice Program supports groups working to end over-incarceration of adult offenders in America, with a specific aim to reduce racial disparity.  In particular, the Program makes grants to groups that are working to:


  • Reduce the number of people unnecessarily jailed pending trial by promoting the use of risk assessment tools and pretrial release policies and practices;
  • Reduce lengths of criminal sentences through reform of charging, sentencing, and supervision policies and practices; and
  • Reduce jail populations through the use of diversion at the front-end of the criminal justice system that connects individuals with substance abuse disorders and mental illness to the public health system.


Video: Seema Gajwani on pretrial detention reform – June 13, 2014

Pretrial Justice Leadership Convening – Oct 8, 2013

Video Interview: Julie Stewart of FAMM on Sentencing Policies – Aug 16, 2013

INFO GRAPHIC: Locking Up Too Many Americans for Too Long – Jul 10, 2013

Keeping Low-Risk People Out of Jail before Trial – Jun 2013 Newsletter

How the new healthcare law can improve the criminal justice system - Feb 26, 2014

Program News, click here.


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