The U.S. criminal justice system is failing. More than two million people are held in American prisons – the largest inmate population in the world. The number is growing daily, largely because of federal and state laws prescribing mandatory minimum sentences, even for non-violent offenders. 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. In particular, the Program makes grants to groups that are working to:
- Reduce incarceration rates through the reform of sentencing laws and parole and probation systems, including the use of diversion and alternatives to incarceration;
- Reduce jail populations through the reform of pretrial detention policies and practices;
- Develop and promote innovative strategies to reduce the overrepresentation of racial and ethnic minorities in the criminal justice process.