BEND, ore. - The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Thursday that Deschutes County is one of 20 additional jurisdictions joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national $100 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.
Deschutes 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.
Deschutes County was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from across the country, officials said in a news release.
“Local jurisdictions are leading the way on justice reform,” said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. “Demand for reform at the local level is considerable and growing, as evidenced by the number, diversity, and creativity of the applications we received. This momentum is encouraging; particularly as the federal justice reform landscape evolves and shifts.”
Through the Challenge’s Innovation Fund, Deschutes County will receive support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms.
Deschutes County’s innovations will focus on pilot a pre-charge program for people suspected of possession of a controlled substance, which will reduce arrests and be an alternative to incarceration.
It is a two-tiered initiative that is part of the county’s broader Goldilocks program that applies graduated diversion and sentencing options for drug offenses. Program participants who substantially comply with their treatment plan requirements may avoid arrest and improve their prospects and chances for recovery.
As you might imagine, District Attorney John Hummel had this explanation for the name of the new "Goldilocks" program for NewsChannel 21:
"The idea is that we target the intervention to the suspect, with the goal of using the intervention that is 'just right' for each person," he said. "The 'right' intervention is the one that is most likely to result in the suspect never committing a crime again."
“District attorneys should not sit back, wait for crimes to be committed, and then try to prosecute our way out of them,” Hummel said. “I look forward to working with the MacArthur Foundation and the Urban Institute to develop, in partnership with our local law enforcement and medical community, a pro-active program to reduce the number of drug crimes committed in Deschutes County.”
Deschutes 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.
As with many jurisdictions around the county, Deschutes County has a high recidivism rate for drug-related crimes. To address this issue, Deschutes County will implement a multi-organizational program that will offer drug offenders suspected of possession of a controlled substance the opportunity to seek treatment and services in order to avoid incarceration.
Through this three-tiered initiative, offenders will receive drug rehabilitation -- and if they fail at one tier treatment level, they will have the opportunity to succeed under another intervention, with tighter restrictions and requirements.
The Goldilocks program intends to make the community safer by decreasing the number of drug related arrests by addressing drug addiction problems.
Deschutes County 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.
The Innovation Fund jurisdictions expand the Challenge’s reach into new states and deepen its work across the country. They include:
· Adams County, CO
· Allegheny County, PA
· City of Atlanta, GA
· Broward County, FL
· Buncombe County, NC
· Campbell County, TN
· Clark County, NV
· Dane County, WI
· State of Delaware
· Deschutes County, OR
· Durham County, NC
· East Baton Rouge Parish, LA
· Lake County, IL
· Minnehaha County, SD
· Missoula County, MT
· Polk County, IA
· City and County of San Francisco, CA
· Santa Clara County, CA
· Summit County, OH
· Yakima County, WA
Information about the selected jurisdictions, as well as news, research, and events related to the Safety and Justice Challenge, will be published on http://www.SafetyandJusticeChallenge.org.
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 www.macfound.org/criminaljustice.
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.