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Community Violence Intervention in Chicago: Fall 2023 Report

October 26, 2023

Starting in 2016, with initial funding from the philanthropic sector, a handful of community violence intervention (CVI) organizations began serving individuals at high risk of shooting or being shot with a menu of services that include outreach, life coaching, trauma treatment, education and job training. Today, as public funding at the city, county and state level has increased, Chicago's CVI network has grown to more than two dozen organizations that are currently active in nearly half of Chicago's 77 communities, including all of those with the highest levels of gun violence. Collectively, they serve more than 3000 individuals, representing about 15-20 percent of the highest risk population.Comparing 2023 year-to-date to the same period of time in the peak year of 2021, shootings in most CVI communities are down. Many exceed the citywide decline.

Benchmarking Foundation Learning and Evaluation Practices 2023

October 5, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of philanthropy, foundations are continuously seeking ways to enhance their effectiveness and maximize their contributions to social impact. Foundations across the country are striving to change how they work to be more equitable, trust-based, and community-centered—including in their learning and evaluation practices.How can foundations position learning and evaluation so that it aligns with their core values?One invaluable resource aiding this endeavor is the Center for Evaluation Innovation's new 2023 release of its Benchmarking Research on Foundation Learning and Evaluation Practices report. This signature research has been tracking trends in how foundations structure, staff, resource, and prioritize the work of their learning and evaluation functions since 2009.* This year, we made key shifts in this research cycle to align with our own north star of racial equity and social justice. The 2023 report includes survey data from learning and evaluation leaders at independent and community foundations with an annual grantmaking budget of at least $10 million annually and/or who engage with the Evaluation Roundtable network. Leaders at 106 foundations completed it. Where possible and appropriate, we used time, foundation commitment to equity, and foundation annual giving as frames in analyzing the data.These findings offer a starting point for crucial reflections and conversations about learning and evaluation work in the philanthropic sector. They provide us with an opportunity to be in community together and give us a mechanism for holding ourselves accountable to what we think our sector should be doing. 

Recommendations To Reduce Frequent Jail Contact

July 25, 2023

Although most jail admissions represent the only contact a person will have with the criminal legal system, there is a small group of people who experience more frequent jail contact and who represent a disproportionate number of both jail admissions and expenditures. People with frequent jail contact experience complex, interconnected social, economic, and behavioral health needs that may exacerbate (or be exacerbated by) their frequent jail contact. This group also experiences frequent contact with other services in the community, such as emergency rooms, homeless shelters, and treatment facilities. Strategies to implement services that meet complex needs and address structural barriers are critical to meaningfully and sustainably reduce system involvement among the population of people who experience frequent jail contact.Effective change for people with frequent jail contact must proceed simultaneously on a systemic, policy level and on the individual services level. The population discussed in this policy brief typically has complicated behavioral and medical health needs, extensive criminal legal encounters, and significant social deficits such as poverty, isolation, and elevated risk of being unhoused. Many of their needs can be addressed with intensive, person-centered treatment in a coordinated continuum of care.

Roadblock to Care: Barriers to Out-of-State Travel for Abortion and Gender Affirming Care

July 18, 2023

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down constitutional protections for abortion. One year later, 15 states enacted abortion bans, and half of states have tried. Gender-affirming care restrictions also exploded in the same period: 142 bills were introduced across the U.S. in 2023, 20 states have already banned gender-affirming care for youth, and seven have banned it for people of all ages. These restrictions force healthcare providers to turn away patients in vast regions of the U.S., from Texas to Florida and across much of the American heartland. In turn, healthcare seekers and their families have foregone vital care or traveled far from their homes and across state lines in search of the care they need.State legislators opposed to abortion and gender-affirming care have these healthcare travelers in their crosshairs. They've reached beyond their states' jurisdictional bounds to punish residents for seeking care that is perfectly legal where it's administered. In April 2023, Idaho legislators banned the in-state leg of travel to neighboring states to obtain certain abortions–and other states are trying to follow suit. These laws have been countered by "safe harbor" legislation in states like Massachusetts (abortion care), California, New York, New Jersey, Minnesota and Washington state (gender-affirming care). But while dubious laws like Idaho's stand, they put healthcare seekers, their helpers and healthcare providers at serious risk of investigation or prosecution.Healthcare seekers' very need to travel can be used against them. Prosecutors bringing criminalized healthcare charges have relied on digital surveillance data in healthcare prosecutions. Typically, the data comes from smartphones: a person's texts, their internet search history, or their online purchase records. The Federal Trade Commission and tech companies like Google have rushed to prevent prosecutors and state officials from using phones' geolocation data to place individuals at healthcare clinics. But even when smartphone data is out of reach, travel data can be used to corroborate accusations against known healthcare travelers and to identify yet unknown healthcare seekers. License plate data, Uber and Lyft data, and even bikeshare data can be used to reveal that someone traveled to a reproductive or gender-affirming healthcare clinic.Not all forms of travel and accommodations pose the same surveillance risk, especially for individuals who are not on state officials' or prosecutors' radar. But it's nearly impossible to travel anonymously in the U.S. and to avoid leaving a digital trail of one's travels.

At The Intersection of Probation and Jail Reduction Efforts: Findings on Probation, Jail, and Transitional Housing Trends in Pima County, Arizona

July 11, 2023

Reducing jail populations – and the collateral consequences of criminal legal system involvement – requires jurisdictions to critically examine why and how people are entering the system to begin with. Much of the research around jail reform focuses on the pretrial population; however, with rising numbers o individuals under probation supervision and jail commonly being used to detain those awaiting a hearing on a probation violation, reform efforts to understand how violations contribute to the overall jail population are essential. To learn more about the impact probation revocations have on jails and to advance promising strategies to address them, CUNY ISLG funded the Urban Institute through the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) to conduct a mixed-methods study on how people on probation end up in jail incarceration and the impact of a program aimed at improving these outcomes with transitional housing support through the Adult Probation Department (APD) in Pima County, Arizona. Using administrative data from the Pima County Jail and APD, case record reviews, and interviews with APD leadership, probation officers, judges, community-based housing providers, and people on probation, this study aimed to decipher the system-level trends in jail incarceration for probation violations and the key pathways to jail incarceration for those individuals currently on probation. It also sought to understand the impact of the transitional housing support program on short and long-term outcomes for people on probation receiving funding from APD for transitional housing.

Media Ecosystems and Youth Voting: Profiles of County-Level Support for Civic Participation

June 27, 2023

A complex, interconnected web of conditions in a community shape young people's civic development, their access to information about politics and elections, and their ability to meaningfully participate in civic life. One major element of those conditions is the media, which includes not just formal news outlets but an ecosystem of institutions, information pathways, technological access, and online/offline behaviors.A new CIRCLE project examines that relationship by creating profiles of what media ecosystems look like in different communities across the U.S., the demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of those profiles, and their connection to youth voter turnout in recent national elections. You can explore this research through a new interactive data visualization and a full report.

Immigration Enforcement Policies and Detainer Trends in SJC Sites

May 23, 2023

Immigration status impacts the way people, especially people who are Latino/a, experience local justice systems—from arrest and detention to data sharing with immigration officials. And a Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) report on immigration enforcement policies and trends of detention shows the landscape differs widely between communities. Even among SJC cities and counites, some jurisdictions limit cooperation with federal immigration enforcement, others may only share data or only detain people for immigration and customs enforcement, and others cooperate across many dimensions of the system. The report includes recommendations for communities committed to reducing the overuse of jails including limiting data sharing and outsourcing of jail beds and identifying the ways immigration policies affect their systems.

Establishing, Implementing, and Maintaining a Language Access Program

May 23, 2023

The MacArthur Foundation launched the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) in 2015 with the goals of safely reducing jail incarceration and addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system.Many organizations and agencies within local criminal justice systems receive federal financial assistance and are thus legally obligated to provide language services. When law enforcement agencies, court systems, and correctional systems provide adequate language services they strengthen access to justice for people who are limited English proficient (LEP) - e.g., providing life-saving public safety assistance, supporting victims of crime, and delivering vital medical and behavioral care to people who are incarcerated. While national guidance for improving language accessibility exists, the extent to which language services are available in local justice systems is relatively unknown.

Efforts to Reduce Jail Populations in Philadelphia: Implementation Lessons from the Safety and Justice Challenge

March 31, 2023

Jail incarceration continues to be a main driver of the mass incarceration crisis in the United States and to negatively affect individuals, families, and communities. Racial disparities in local jail populations are significant, particularly to the detriment of Black communities. Involvement in the criminal legal system, even when brief, can have severe consequences, including barriers to sustaining employment and securing stable housing, poor physical and mental health stemming from chronic stress and limited access to adequate health care, and disruptions to family relationships and social support networks.To address these issues, Philadelphia implemented a multipronged reform plan supported by the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) to reduce its jail population and associated racial and ethnic disparities. Since 2015, Philadelphia has significantly reduced its jail population through these SJC efforts, which included closing a jail facility, launching a strategy across decision points in the criminal legal system, strengthening collaboration and cross-agency partnerships, launching a formal committee to represent community members' perspectives, and analyzing data to identify racial and ethnic disparities across decision points.This report describes Philadelphia's major SJC strategies, documents how it navigated challenges and advanced tangible reform efforts, and explores the perceived impacts of these strategies on its efforts to engage community members, reduce local jail use, and implement system reforms that advance equity.

Community Engagement Strategies to Advance Justice Reform: Implementation Lessons from Buncombe County, North Carolina, Cook County, Illinois, and New Orleans

March 15, 2023

Communities across the nation are wrestling with how to identify and implement effective reforms that reduce structural inequities in the criminal legal system, promote community safety, and right-size operations of the criminal legal system to achieve more equitable outcomes and increased safety. Research suggests the most inspired and transformative solutions to such intractable problems come from collaborative partnerships between policymakers, criminal legal system leaders, and community members.However, many communities struggle with community engagement because of the strained relationships between the criminal legal system and communities that have historically been criminalized by that system or alienated by civic leaders. Fortunately, some communities have made marked progress. The MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) initiative to reduce the use of jails prioritized authentic engagement with community members across its grantees to build trust, enhance problem solving, and promote mutual accountability for justice reform.This report, which is part of a series of case studies highlighting the work of the SJC initiative, examines the community engagement strategies developed and implemented by three SJC communities: Buncombe County, North Carolina; Cook County, Illinois; and New Orleans. This report documents how these sites navigated challenges and advanced tangible reform efforts, and it explores the perceived impacts of these strategies on the sites' efforts to engage community members, reduce local jail use, and implement system reforms that advance equity. We conclude with a discussion of common themes in the sites' experiences implementing those strategies and recommendations for other communities seeking to advance community engagement.Sites used a variety of community engagement strategies, such as conducting listening sessions, hiring people with lived experience of the criminal legal system to organize events, and using art to receive community feedback on public safety.Common challenges from the three participating sites include navigating long-standing mistrust between community members and government, recruitment and retention in community engagement workgroups, and shifting strategies because of COVID-19.Recommendations and lessons learned from the three sites include ensuring proper resources are available to support community engagement efforts; communicating expectations and the likely pace of progress with community members; considering the accessibility of meetings; elevating the voices of people of color directly impacted by the criminal legal system; providing benefits to community members who attend meetings; leveraging technology to engage the community; and ensuring a diverse group of people is engaged.

Beyond Erasure and Profiling: Cultivating Strong and Vibrant Arab American Communities in Chicagoland

February 13, 2023

This report captures the conditions and experiences of Arab Americans in the Chicagoland area. The report uses demographic research, surveys, focus group data, as well as expert commentaries by organizers and academics to analyze how systemic inequities and anti-Arab/anti-Muslim racism affect the lives of Arab Americans in employment, education, health care, housing, and policing. The report engages with the diversity of experiences among Arab American communities and their common challenge in navigating being at once hypervisible as a result of commonplace stereotypes as well as invisible due to being classified as white by government agencies and due to the general lack of knowledge about Arab Americans in our society.

Justice System Disparities: Black-White National Imprisonment Trends, 2000 to 2020

September 14, 2022

Although significant gaps remain, disparities between Black and White people continued to narrow at nearly every stage of the criminal justice process between 2016 and 2020. In some cases, the pace of the decline slowed; in others, the disparity gap closed entirely.These trends extend patterns from 2000 to 2016 that were identified in CCJ's first report on correctional control by race and sex. Subsequent reports will explore trends in disparity among female populations and by ethnicity, assess trends in multiple states, and seek to identify what, if any, policy changes may have contributed to reductions in racial disparities.