Pima County has been awarded a $1.5 million grant to work on reducing jail populations and to address the racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, according to a press release.
The grant comes from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur foundation. Pima County is one of 11 jurisdictions in the U.S. that has been selected to receive significant funding and expert technical assistance in a plan for reform over the next two years.
The county's goal is to reduce the average daily jail population by 18 percent over three years. The county will address the main factors of the county jail population including low-level nonviolent offenses related to substance abuse and mental illness and warrants for failure to appear on misdemeanor charges.
There were more than 10,000 people incarcerated in Pima County Jail in 2014 for warrants for the failure to appear in court. 93 percent of these people were initially arrested on misdemeanor charges.
Pima County will implement reform initiatives to reduce the jail population including an enhanced call, text and email court-date reminder system to reduce failure to appear charges. There will also be more detention alternatives through electronic monitoring technology. The county will also focus on moving more individuals to post-booking treatment instead of keeping them in jail.
The county is also going to provide training training to criminal justice system workers on implicit bias and understanding disparities.
“Pima County is excited to have earned this generous grant in such a competitive field,” Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said in the release. “We intend to use this funding to build on our long and successful history of criminal justice innovations and reforms in a continued effort to improve public safety and increase the efficiency and equity of our justice system.”
Pima County will receive technical assistance from several criminal justice organizations including the Center for Court Innovation.