Cook County receives MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce use of jails

SHARE Cook County receives MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce use of jails
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MacArthur Foundation grant to reduce use of jails will be awarded to the Cook County Jail. | Sun-Times file

Cook County will receive a $150,000 planning grant from the MacArthur Foundation to help reduce the number of low-level nonviolent offenders in the Cook County Jail, the foundation announced Wednesday.

The Chicago-based private foundation, one of the nation’s largest, chose 20 jurisdictions out of nearly 200 applications in an effort to help reduce to use of incarceration, according to a statement from the foundation.

Along with the grant, the county will receive consulting help during a six-month planning period to build plans to create “more fair and effective local justice systems,” according to the foundation.

“For the past two years, the criminal justice stakeholders in Cook County have worked cooperatively and collaboratively on reforms that have led to an increase in the number of people who can be safely released while awaiting trial, and to many efficiencies in court processes,” Chief Cook County Circuit Judge Timothy Evans, whose office led the application process, said in the statement.

“The awarding of the MacArthur grant is key to those efforts, because it marks the first time that all stakeholders have joined forces to obtain funding to support our mission to implement systemwide change,” Evans said.

Some of the other jurisdictions who will receive grants include Los Angeles County, Palm Beach County in Florida, Milwaukee County and Harris County in Texas, according to the foundation.

In 2016, up to 10 of the jurisdictions will receive a second round of funding — between $500,000 and $2 million annually — to implement their plans over two years.

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