Criminal Justice

Reforms at the edges of the criminal justice system are no longer enough. It’s time to raise up a field that designs and implements new alternatives to the criminal justice system.

Over-Incarceration: A Uniquely American Problem

The scale and severity of America’s criminal justice system is a unique problem unmatched by any other developed nation. This crisis disproportionately impacts people of color, and costs the nation $80 billion annually in law enforcement spending and between $55 and $60 billion in lost annual Gross Domestic Product.

Our country’s over-reliance on mass incarceration is a failed experiment that adversely impacts communities and families, and has no positive effect on public safety. It’s a problem that can, and must, urgently be addressed with effective community alternatives. Community-based programs encourage innovative solutions that meet local priorities, foster collective action, and support new leaders who can spearhead efforts to make their own neighborhoods safer and stronger.

It is time to boldly reimagine our nation’s justice system.

Public Welfare Foundation’s Criminal Justice Program makes grants primarily to state-based groups that are working to:

  • Advance the redirection and prioritization of state and local resources toward targeted investments that support system-involved individuals in their communities, through research and strategic thought leadership.
  • Reduce state incarceration levels and racial disparities through reforms in sentencing, charging, and supervision policies and procedures.

A Transformed System Requires a New Approach

America’s scaled response to crime isn’t working. It has yielded little in public safety outcomes and relied heavily on a system that causes grave damage to all it touches.

Public Welfare Foundation aims to end the over-incarceration of adults in the U.S., while reducing racial disparities. At the same time, we work to advance community reinvestment strategies that help people stay out of the system.

Heroes exist in the very neighborhoods that are most often relegated for being riddled with crime and violence. It is time to resource these leaders and let them bring us into a new era of restoration and redemption. It is through this effort that we will be able to overhaul the systems that were created to marginalize our nation’s most vulnerable populations.

The Incarceration Crisis

It is time to boldly reimagine our nation’s approach to criminal justice.

Number of people released from America’s state and federal prisons every week

People sitting in our nation’s jails and prisons

Children with incarcerated parents

People with prior felony convictions

People with a criminal record in the US

Amount lost in annual Gross Domestic Product

Resources & Media

Building Capacity for State Reforms

Alliance for Safety and Justice

Public Welfare Foundation grantees Lenore Anderson and Robert Rooks at Alliance for Safety and Justice discuss over-incarceration and the racial disparities in the justice system. Hear why they built a national organization to provide direct support to states across the country that are working to  significantly reduce incarceration and racial disparities in state prisons, and build momentum for reform nationally.

Turning Moments into Movements

Color of Change

Public Welfare Foundation funds Color of Change in their use of technological innovations in criminal justice reform advocacy. Featured in this video is Color of Change executive director Rashad Robinson.

Fighting for Fair Sentencing Laws

Families Against Mandatory Minimums

Families Against Mandatory Minimums is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization fighting for fair and proportionate sentencing laws that allow judicial discretion while maintaining public safety.

Improving Pretrial Justice Systems

Pretrial Justice Institute

The Public Welfare Foundation supports the Pretrial Justice Institute in their efforts to improve pretrial justice systems across the country. Featured is Pretrial Justice Institute Executive Director Cherise Fanno Burdeen.

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