MacArthur Foundation Partners with Dane County for Criminal Justice Improvement

October 18, 2018
County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan, 608.333.2285
County Board

Grant is part of #rethinkjails initiative


The Dane County Board is poised to approve a new grant from the prestigious MacArthur Foundation as part of local efforts to improve the criminal justice system. 


The Board will vote Thursday on accepting the $20,000 grant, which would create a data system for tracking race, gender, age and the type of violation that led to an arrest.


The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City County Building.


This funding continues to increase Dane County’s capacity to analyze criminal justice data, which will lead to more informed policy, practice, and program decisions.  It will be possible to create a data model of Dane County’s arrest through pretrial populations, identify populations in need of more assistance, and share that information with community stakeholders who provide services. 


 “This grant endorses the investment the County Board has made integrating data into decision making,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan (District 26, Middleton). “We again thank the MacArthur Foundation not only for grants for two initiatives in Dane County, but also for opening the door to national experts and technical assistance to help us build capacity for real change,” Corrigan said.


The MacArthur Foundation last year awarded $50,000 for the Dane County Community Restorative Court and the new award will complement that work by building a front-end justice data model. 

“It is critical for Dane County not only to reduce our jail population, but also to address the on-going racial disparity of those in the criminal justice system,” said Corrigan.  “Gathering data, knowing demographics, measuring impacts, and using evidence as a basis for policy making matters.  We need to be efficient and effective in our allocation of resources, and – just as importantly – we need to be guided by a commitment to equity.” 


“I also want to stress the importance of the community voice in this work,” Corrigan continued.  “This funding includes intentional engagement with community members also working to reduce disparities.”


The grants are part of the MacArthur Foundation’s “Safety and Justice Challenge,” a national $100 million initiative designed to safely decrease jail usage and reduce racial and ethnic disparities thereby  creating fairer and more effective local justice systems across the country.  The initiative goes by the social media hashtag “#rethinkjails”.


Dane County is one of 40 jurisdictions selected by MacArthur to design and test innovative local justice reforms that can address the racial and ethnic disparities in local justice systems.


With the support of the MacArthur Foundation, the Dane County Criminal Justice Council on Oct. 2-4 hosted a workshop on the early points of intersection of individuals with behavioral health issues with the criminal justice system.


The event convened national leaders from the justice, behavioral health, recovery and civic communities along with local stakeholders.  Partners supporting the effort included Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities, the National League of Cities, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.


 More information on MacArthur’s Safety and Justice Challenge is available at


More information on the Dane County Criminal Justice Council is available at:


About the County Board of Supervisors:

The 37-member, nonpartisan Dane County Board of Supervisors represents the needs and welfare of all residents of Dane County, Wisconsin, and sets policy for County operations in the areas of human needs, infrastructure, criminal justice, the environment and County finance.  The County Board meets twice monthly at 7 p.m. in Room 201 of the City-County Building.