The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) is a nationwide initiative designed to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

In 2015, Multnomah County was selected to participate in the Safety and Justice Challenge which has resulted in policy, operations and data teams analyzing the public safety system and developing strategies to reduce jail bed use while ensuring public safety. In 2017, the County was awarded $2 million from the Safety and Justice Challenge to implement strategies that address the main drivers of the local jail population, including unfair and ineffective practices that take a particularly heavy toll on people of color, low-income communities, and people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

The SJC funds the Diane Wade House, an Afrocentric transitional housing program for women involved in the justice system and supports coordination of the Multnomah County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD®).

The strategies and initiatives outlined in the Safety and Justice Challenge are being led by the Local Public Safety Coordinating Council. Additional stakeholders include members of the downtown/old town neighborhood associations, community and faith-based service organizations as well as members of the local business community.


Throughout SJC planning, Multnomah County has identified strategies to reduce racial and ethnic disparities while simultaneously reducing reliance on jail. The video above highlights some of those strategies.