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Posted on: December 29, 2021

[ARCHIVED] $75k Microgrant Initiatives Awarded to Advance Local Criminal Justice Reform

SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash. -- The Spokane County region is the recipient of a $700,000 grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to continue building on efforts to safely reduce jail population, increase community engagement, and address racial and ethnic disparities. This funding brings the Foundation’s total investment in Spokane County to $4,450,000 million to date. The grant is part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails.

This award provides funding for a $75,000 microgrant initiative. Better Health Together (BHT) administered the contract and serves as the fiscal sponsor and partner for this initiative. After reviewing several applications, a selection committee comprised of systems actors and community members awarded funding for two proposals: 

  1. A project implemented by Washington State University to establish clear and sustainable processes for Spokane Regional Health District’s Nurse Family Partnership to engage and enroll pregnant women during their period of incarceration in the Spokane County Jail, and second to understand the impact of incarceration on prenatal and postpartum experiences and to identify potential ways to mitigate those effects through increased access to quality care. 
  2. A project led by Compassionate Addiction Treatment (CAT) to provide behavioral health services to unhoused individuals upon their release from jail.

 Maggie Yates, Regional Law and Justice Administrator for Spokane County, stated, “Since our first Safety & Justice Challenge award in 2015, we have primarily leveraged grant funds to invest in systems’-based reforms, like the Office of Pre-Trial Services, risk tools, and case processing. These interventions have been critical to fair and efficient criminal justice outcomes and we remain committed to continued meaningful work to address some of the most persistent challenges we face across the legal system, including racial disparities. We believe that direct investments in the community will yield innovative and effective solutions that create better outcomes not only for those who come into contact with law enforcement, but for our community as a whole.”

Alison Poulsen, Better Health Together’s Executive Director said, BHT is proud to partner with the City of Spokane and Spokane County’s Safety and Justice Challenge. We stand committed to reducing racial and ethnic disparities in our health system, education system, and our criminal justice system. We see the connection between access to mental health, substance use treatment, housing, and transportation as part of the solution to reduce recidivism and address systemic racial inequities. Over the past five years, BHT has worked hard to build strong community partnerships that link our community health system together. Partnering for these micro-grants was a no-brainer. We’re proud of the work our community voiced team to award these grants. Now, let’s get to work Spokane.”

More information about these programs can be found at https://www.spokanecounty.org/4620/Spokane-Regional-Law-Justice as well as on www.SafetyandJusticeChallenge.org.

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 About the MacArthur Foundation

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people, effective institutions, and influential networks building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. MacArthur is placing a few big bets that truly significant progress is possible on some of the world’s most pressing social challenges, including over-incarceration, global climate change, nuclear risk, and significantly increasing financial capital for the social sector. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsible and responsive democracy, as well as the strength and vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information about the Foundation’s criminal justice reform work can be found at www.macfound.org/criminaljustice.

About Spokane County

Spokane County government serves half a million citizens and 13 municipal jurisdictions, making it the fourth-largest county in the State of Washington. For more information, visit www.spokanecounty.org, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

About Better Health Together

Better Health Together tackles health inequities throughout eastern Washington. We believe everyone deserves a fair shot at being healthy. To make this happen, we work with more than 100 organizations across seven counties to promote practical solutions that meet the needs of the people and communities we serve. BHT was founded on the principle that when we step back and let local community lead, we find the best and most sustainable solutions to some of our most complex problems.

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