Criminal Justice Reform
Building healthy and safe communities by ending mass criminalization and incarceration, repairing the harm caused by a criminal legal system built on structural racism, and creating new pathways to justice and safety.
Over 77 million people in the United States have a criminal record. Nearly 2.3 million people are currently incarcerated in jails and prisons. These statistics illustrate the enormous reach of our criminal legal system.
Those who have been arrested, convicted or imprisoned face harsh consequences and barriers to economic stability and mobility—a devastating result that affects their families and communities. We are joining efforts to make much needed reforms that are designed to end mass incarceration and increase public safety and public health.
In addition to its wide reach, our criminal legal system reflects practices that disproportionately impact low-income people and people of color. According to the Vera Institute of Justice:
- Black people are more than 3x as likely as white people to be incarcerated in local jails.
- One in three Black men experiences time in jail or prison during their lifetime, compared to one in 17 white men.
- People of Color, and particularly Black people, are more likely than white people to be prosecuted, convicted and given longer sentences for the same or similar crimes.
We believe it is possible to reform our criminal legal system. By supporting and expanding promising interventions and changing laws, policies and practices, we can reduce the scope, costly impacts, and racial and socioeconomic injustice of mass incarceration. We can also provide those affected by it with greater access to jobs and opportunities that can cost effectively improve economic mobility and life trajectories while increasing community safety and public health.
Our criminal legal system is complex and fragmented, guided by a wide web of local, state and federal laws and practices.
“Mass incarceration will have to be dismantled the same way it was constructed: piecemeal, incrementally, and above all, locally.”
–James Forman, Jr., legal scholar and criminal justice advocate
Currently, our approach includes:
- Joining The Justice and Mobility Fund: A philanthropic collaboration launched by Blue Meridian Partners, the Ford Foundation, and us, The Justice and Mobility Fund aims to boost economic mobility and improve the life trajectories of people impacted by the criminal justice system. Learn more
- Supporting a diverse array of approaches to reform: We are providing support to organizations working to improve the system through advocacy, communications and litigation. Our initial focus includes reforming our ineffective and unjust system of fines and fees, supporting prosecutorial reform and initiating changes within the prison system itself to better enable successful re-entry and reduce recidivism. Our approach will continue to evolve as we identify areas in which we can make an impact.
Meet Our Partners
As we explore this new area of investment, we are not accepting unsolicited requests or proposals for funding. We work continuously to identify potential grant applicants through due diligence procedures and will request proposals from a limited number of organizations.