Capital Commentary is the weekly current-affairs publication of CPJ, written to encourage the pursuit of public justice.

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This Week’s Capital Commentary

Harold Dean Trulear

Article Summary: 

Last year, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced its Safety and Justice Challenge initiative. The foundation has made available seventy-five million dollars for reforms in America’s system of county jails, deeming that the twelve million annual admissions to such facilities constitute a misuse of the criminal justice system. Unlike most contemporary criminal justice reform efforts, MacArthur has chosen to focus on jails, rather than prisons. In the first round of grants awarded this year, Philadelphia has received $3.5 million dollars over three years to address serious problems in its county jail system.

In this article, Dean Trulear explores the differences between jails and prisons. He describes some of the major issues in Philadelphia’s jails and previous attempts at reforms there. He outlines the ways that the MacArthur grant will build on existing reforms and introduce new resources as well. Trulear argues that the investment and implementation of the MacArthur initiative should give us the opportunity to reclaim the humanity of those who have commited crimes and to provide chances for real personal transformation consistent with our Christian understanding of people being created in the image of God.

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