Justice Reform

MacArthur Funds Criminal Justice Reforms in San Francisco and Long Beach

Taylor Walker
Written by Taylor Walker

On Tuesday, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced $22 million in new grants to jurisdictions across the nation, as part of the foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, which aims to “create fairer, more effective local justice systems across the country” by changing the way America thinks about and uses (overuses) jails.

San Francisco, along with 12 other current Challenge sites, will receive additional funding to continue their efforts to reform their justice systems. The grants ranged from $350,000 to $4 million. SF landed in the middle of the pack, receiving $2 million.

The city/county will use the money to further its goal of reducing the local jail population by 16 percent over two years. Local officials hope to eliminate the need to replace a seismically unsound jail facility.

“We cannot rely on 20th century tools to address 21st century problems,” said District Attorney George Gascón. “From the streets to our jails, the way San Francisco has responded to the growing epidemic of mental illness and substance abuse is not yielding the results that the community deserves. It’s been three years since the city rejected a proposal to build a new jail; it’s long past time to embrace the science, the research, and a new paradigm.”

San Francisco will use the $2 million to increase pre-arrest and pre-trial diversion strategies, to “root out” racial disparities and bias in the criminal justice system, and to boost services offered to people with mental illness or substance use issues in the system. The money will also go toward sentencing and corrections strategies that prioritize rehabilitation and recidivism-reduction. Additionally, SF hopes to reduce the time it takes to process cases.

In SF, “only those offenders who commit more serious crimes are in custody long enough to receive a referral to an inpatient treatment facility,” according to DA Gascón’s office. “This is because justice-involved individuals with mental illness are de-prioritized, resulting in a 120-day average wait for a bed in a community-based residential treatment program. The result is that individuals with mental illness deteriorate in our jails just to be released to our streets without having been treated and in worse condition.” The inefficiency fuels recidivism, and is “the reason that our jail remains San Francisco’s largest behavioral health facility,” the DA’s Office said.

Long Beach, CA was selected as part of a fresh, mini round of $50,000 grants. The city aims to use the money to establish a “Connection to Care” (C2C) program to link people who cycle in and out of jail to community-based services. Long Beach officials will also launch a data-sharing system between the city, and county and community partners that will help track C2C outcomes “and promote data-driven decision-making.”

“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 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. While progress is not always easy, and there is no single solution or quick fix, these jurisdictions are proving it is possible to rethink local justice systems from the ground up with forward-looking, smart solutions.”

Los Angeles County was one of the original 20 jurisdictions chosen as a challenge site in 2015, but did not make it to the second round of full mentoring and funding in 2016. The MacArthur Foundation did not go away, however, choosing instead to keep encouraging the sites that failed to make the cut. In 2017, MacArthur tapped an additional 8 municipalities, including LA County, to again receive justice system reform assistance, including $350,000. The foundation’s grant money and expert help were directed at restorative justice-focused diversion, as well as the LA County Sheriff’s Mental Evaluation Teams, which respond to mental health crises and help divert mentally ill individuals away from jails and into community services. The funding and guidance also went toward reforming the cash bail system by expanding the county’s pretrial release through risk assessment.

Image by MacArthur Foundation: Safety and Justice Challenge sites.


  • Why is the MacArthur foundation giving money to San Francisco? (one of the countries richest cities, where the median home price is north of 1.6 million) Especially considering all they seem to want to do with the money is double down on the current liberal policies, that as D.A. Gascon admits “ is not yielding the results that the community deserves”

    Part of the money is going to “root out” racial disparities and bias in San Francisco’s criminal justice system, I had no idea those rich liberals were such bigots, but don’t they have the money to pay for that kind of stuff themselves?

  • Yeah…the same way San Francisco has, and will always have the biggest homeless problem. The lack of affordable housing, all the while some of the states richest people live in their multi-million dollar homes throughout the bay area and expose their progressive liberal virtues. Many of these liberal progressives have money and huge multi-room homes, why not put your money where your mouth is and open up Xanadu to a homeless preson? Forget building a tiny home in your backyard. What a dichotomy?

    Is this what a socialist-democraticly ran city looks? Starbucks store fronts whole needles, feces and homeless people “literally litter” the streets.

    Of course the solution is to conduct studies, create commissions, and create a villian and “foil” to make a case for justifying the reason to throw more money at a problem your very actions help to perpetuate.

    Great play for orchestrating the fall of society.

  • Conspiracy, you are such a cynic…….but right on the $. Then let’s put the blame on the criminal justice system, the usual culprits of the left.

  • Madame Kong – Im not sure its the “rich liberals” that are stopping the black kids acting “suspicious,” or the ones who are overcharging. Rather, I suspect its your ilk, the police and prosecutors. And, you quote Gascon, but leave out the other part, “it’s long past time to embrace the science, the research, and a new paradigm.” Its time for a change all around, from drug laws, police and prosecution. It not enough to say we don’t discriminate, the numbers say otherwise.

    And, Conspiracy, asking them, you or the rich liberals, to open up their home, is nonsense. This is a matter of policy. I’m sure, unlike the rich liberals, you have an open and generous heart. I suspect a homeless person could not even get past your front yard before you pull out the police issue and claim he was coming on you. And, god help the man if he is black and homeless.

  • CF….Come on? Is this all you have? Weak, childish and “ridiculous” strike outs. I cannot and will not even dignify that blabber you put out as a serious response.

    ” Distract, deflect and dodge” the real issues when confronted and instead just fabricate and put forth fancifull made up “crap” that is burried deep within your twisted psyche.

    Crack pots like you will ensure the Republican party stays in office for a long, long time.

    Thank You….

  • Cf exhibits a curious thought process typical of rich liberals and their politicians. Sure San Francisco under complete control of these liberals and thier politicians, but when it comes to the criminal justice system all of a sudden these same people are powerless to control the people they hire and who’s salary they pay. Is there anything more ridiculous than city politicians marching in protest of their own police departments?

    Cf , who do you think is “overcharging”? guess she never heard of city hall. Who do you think is picking up those phones and reporting those suspicious black people? Silly girl.

  • Oh, Madame Kong, are you not familiar with interest group politics? That is why, instead of bitching, you should be grateful to your union. You are right, the mayor or city council will not come out against the police or the DA. Their unions help these guys get elected. That is why it is others, like BLM, the ACLU, and other attorneys, who have to bring this to light, who have to sue you, get in your face, etc. As liberal as you may think Rahm Emmanuel is (which he is not), he would never come out against Mr. Van Dyke or the police, lest the union not support him. Progress is slow. I understand that. Look, however, at how far we have come in 20 years – weed is legal, we are exonerating people, some DA offices are even reviewing old convictions, police are being criminally charged, and some even convicted. That is progress, albeit slow, but that is the way of the world. Hell, the fact that Rahm Emmanuel decided not to run is progress. Mayor Daley, actually both father and son, would have stood by their officers no matter what, run for re-election and win. Those days are over, Madame Kong. Your America is leaving you. And, finally, you do not need anyone to call in that “suspicious” black kid. Who called in Ezel Ford? No one. Your friends saw a black kid, and decided to do an “investigative stop.”

    Conspiracy, I don’t worry. I’m in it for the long run. Trump may win again, but I know where we are headed. In fact, Im doing just as well, financially, under Trump as I did under Obama, and I did as well under Obama as I did under Bush. As I mentioned to your sister in arms, Madame Kong, this is the white man’s last stance. In a few years, my white brothers will be the new minorities. The middle-red America that voted for Trump will be new permanent underclass. Manufacturing, coal, all that bullshit, is not coming back, and they will still be sitting in the pick up, drinking, doing a little meth, with a tooth pick hanging between the last two teeth they have. I’m in it for the long run.

    During the Viet Nam war, or as the Vietnamese call it, the American War, then New York Times reporter Harrison Salisbury interviewed North Vietnamese Premier Pham Van Dong , and in their conversations, Van Dong asked Salisbury, “How long do you Americans want to fight, Mr. Salisbury? One year? Twenty years? We shall be glad to accommodate.” A bunch of sandal wearing 110 lb men and women hiding in rice fields beat the shit out us because that they were determine, it was not a job for them as it was for the Americans. The writing was on the wall. So it is with your high holy-rolling, Jesus is coming, abortion is murder, immigrants are taking over and blacks are criminals bullshit. Its coming to end. The writing is on the wall. The days when you could push black kids with impunity are leaving you.

  • It really is sad when Celeste makes cf tone down her insults and behave a little. Then we’re stuck with what cf “really” thinks (oh boy) . So cf, you’re in it for the long run eh? Cf imagines herself amongst the liberal elite , and they have a plan. Cf ,as the great George Carlin said, there is a club calling the shots and planning the future and you ain’t in it.
    As far as Vietnam Nam goes, are you sure they really won? The result of thier great patriotic war seems to be right to cater to yankee tourists and make their tennis shoes.

  • “Sticks and Stones my child, Sticks and Stone”. You just can’t go against your true nature and always report to your base instincts of “childish” personal insults and ridiculous rants when you hit a wall of truth and “got nothing else”.

    Keep it up simpleton, my party is loving it every day as we sit back and watch you self-distruct due to your own hand. The adults in the room got you and your sleazy, Socialist, America hating breathern pegged. Keep on protesting, using Antifa as your muscle and letting far left wackos rant on the Hill and on TV.

    Democrats = self-destruction.

    The truth hurts you little baby.

Leave a Comment