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  • Department of Justice Services

    RELOCATION NOTICE:  On May 20, 2022, the Department of Justice Services will be relocated to 201 N. Stone Ave., 2nd Floor.  For more details, see the Relocation Map.

    Pima County among a select few jurisdictions awarded prestigious grant

    Old Courthouse Feb. 9, 2021: Pima County is one of 15 jurisdictions across the country to receive additional funding from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge

    In April 2016, the County received $1.5 million from the Foundation to fund programs designed to reduce jail numbers by addressing the main drivers of the County’s jail population, including warrants for failure to appear on prior misdemeanor charges and low-level nonviolent offenses related to mental illness and substance abuse. 

    These strategies were designed to safely reduce the average daily jail population of 2,136 in 2014 to 1,574 by 2019 -- 562 individuals or 26% -- while saving taxpayers an estimated $2 million per year.

    The County, which received $500,000 over two years in this third round of funding from the Foundation, has been building on positive trends before the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The population of the Pima County Adult Detention Center dropped to a low of 1,303 in May and was at about 1,500 at the end of the December. The County’s post-COVID target in the next two years is to reduce the average daily population by another 5 percent of the previous goal, bringing the new ceiling to 1,495.

    Local jail expenditures in Pima County total about $66 million a year. Download our Safety and Justice Challenge summary sheet.

    Identifying the problems

    Pima County Adult Detention Center’s population averaged 2,136 inmates a day in 2014, close to its full capacity of 2,377 inmates. While many potentially dangerous and violent offenders are incarcerated, jail data show many more face lesser, nonviolent misdemeanor charges. 

    A snapshot of the Pima County Adult Detention Center population from 2011 to 2014 shows that more than 80 percent of inmates in the jail are typically in pretrial status. The single largest group of pretrial detainees were incarcerated on warrants for failures to appear in court, most of which related to underlying misdemeanor charges.  Another major segment of the jail population were pretrial detainees who were originally charged with misdemeanor offenses like shoplifting and DUIs, and lower-level felony charges, such as possession/use of a dangerous or narcotic drug, possession of drug paraphernalia and aggravated criminal damage.

    Building solutions

    One part of the reason for Pima County’s selection was the commitment of a broad coalition of local leaders to implement reforms that will make the criminal justice system fairer and more effective.

    In addition to the lead role the County Administrator’s Office has taken, the efforts have the participation and support of Pima County Sheriff Mark Napier, Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall, Pima County Superior Court leadership, Pretrial Services, the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court, Tucson City Court and the Corrections division of the Sheriff’s Department. 

    File: Race + Justice ForumPima County’s selection also was the result of our efforts to reach outside of the justice system and hear from various community groups and leaders about changes that are necessary. We are working in partnership with Cenpatico Integrated Care, now Arizona Complete Health, the Regional Behavioral Health Authority that provides Medicaid-funded mental health services in Southern Arizona, and a 33-member Community Collaborative of justice system stakeholders and community representatives that will meet regularly to review data monitoring results and suggest adjustments to the strategies for the County to implement.

    About the Challenge

    The Safety and Justice Challenge is an initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. The initiative — an initial five-year, $100 million investment by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation — features a competition to help jurisdictions across the country create fairer, more effective local justice systems.

    The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge recognizes that there are better, fairer, and more effective alternatives to excessive jail incarceration. The Safety and Justice Challenge is supporting a network of competitively selected local jurisdictions committed to finding ways to safely reduce jail incarceration.

    Jurisdictions participating in the Challenge will develop and model effective ways to keep people out of jail who don’t belong there, more effectively reintegrate those who must be confined into the community upon release, and help them stay out of jail thereafter. In doing so, they will demonstrate alternatives to incarceration as usual, creating models for reducing unnecessary jail use to make communities healthier, fairer, and safer.

    Decriminalizing Mental Illness Conference

    In case you missed our 2017 Mental Illness Decriminalization Conference check it out here.

    Community Collaborative

    Check out this video about our Safety and Justice Challenge efforts and our video on Warrant Resolution Court.

    The Pima County Safety and Justice Challenge seeks to safely reduce over-incarceration by implementing innovative and common sense strategies and programs.  Successful efforts so far include expanded risk screening for all misdemeanor defendants; additional mental health screening before initial court appearances; enhanced automated call, text and email court-date reminders; and weekend and weeknight court sessions for working people.  Helping guide the Safety and Justice Challenge is a 33-member Community Collaborative made up of justice system partners and community representatives, including system involved individuals, victim advocates, clergy, and tribal members.

    Learn more about the Pima County Safety and Justice Community Collaborative.


    05/26/2022 -- Dozens of officials visit Pima County to learn about justice reform, assisting people with mental-health issue
    Pima County Government

    10/25/2019 -- Legal adversaries agree on new approaches to criminal justice reform
    Pima County Government

    07/19/2019 -- Warrant Resolution Court offers hope for clearing legal hurdles
    Pima County Government

    05/31/19 -- Temporary screening facility is big step forward in Pima County's effort to reduce jail population
    Arizona Daily Star

    05/19/19 -- Sizeable reduction of nonviolent drug offenders help secure $1.8M grant for Pima County
    Arizona Daily Star

    04/29/19 -- "In Their Shoes" Reentry Simulation
    Pima County Government

    04/20/19 -- Pima County finding ways to save by reducing jail population
    Arizona Daily Star

    04/02/19 -- Meeting the needs of individuals with substance use disorders: Strategies for law enforcementNational Association of Counties

    03/30/19 -- New jail booking process to save money, keep those facing minor charges out of custody
    Arizona Daily Star

    03/25/19 -- Pima County leading the state in criminal justice reform efforts
    Esmond Station Community Radio

    03/25/19 -- New strategies seek to meet deadline to cut Pima County's jail population
    Arizona Daily Star

    03/18/19 -- Plan to reduce jail population 
    Telemundo Arizona

    01/30/19 -- $8 Million to Advance Local Justice System Reforms
    Safety and Justice Challenge

    01/18/19 -- City, County sue pharmaceutical companies over opioid crisis
    Tucson News Now

    01/12/19 -- Pima County Criminal Justice agencies work toward reducing jail population
    Arizona Daily Star


    12/16/18 -- Mental health, substance use treatment on their way for Tucson's low-level offenders
    Arizona Daily Star

    12/14/18 -- Pima County seeking help to get homeless into housing and out of jail
    Tucson News Now

    11/22/18 -- America's crime problems being fed by a broken mental health system
    American (In) Justice

    11/15/18 -- Report finds disproportionate sentencing along racial lines in Arizona
    AZ Central

    11/13/18 -- Women's Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2018

    10/12/18 -- $1.4M grant pairs Tucson police with drug counselors in effort to combat opioid crisis
    Arizona Daily Star

    10/02/18 -- Convicted felons in Arizona have tough time getting voting rights back
    Tucson News Now

    08/05/18 -- Law enforcement and mental health partnership pays dividends
    Arizona Daily Star

    07/10/18 -- The U.S. still incarcerates more people than any other country

    07/06/18 -- Bail reform means safer communities, by Mary Mergler

    06/17/18 -- Pima County jail population on the decline as part of multi-million dollar grant
    Arizona Daily Star

    04/03/18 -- Michele's Journey - Mother During and After Incarceration
    Arizona Public Media

    03/15/18 -- Champions of Change
    Safety and Justice Challenge

    03/15/18 -- Less is more when it comes to putting people in jail
    Arizona Capital Times

    02/16/18 -- Panel explores second chances for former inmates
    Pima County Government

    02/07/18 -- Leffert's and Cramer : Jail alternatives can benefit all
    Arizona Daily Star

    01/17/18 -- Safety and Justice Challenge featured jurisdiction: Pima County, Arizona
    National Association of Counties

    01/10/18 -- Ducey delivers State of the State in Tucson
    Tucson News Now


    12/22/17 -- Community Collaborative members reflect on first year
    Pima County Government

    12/08/17 -- A 'Q and A' with a former inmate, member of Community Collaborative
    Pima County Government

    12/06/17 -- Tucson leaders discuss criminal justice system in summit hosted by The Atlantic
    Arizona Daily Star

    11/08/17 -- Crime victims now have serene space to retreat to at Pima County Superior Court
    Arizona Daily Star

    11/06/17 -- Arizona bans the box requiring a criminal history
    Tucson News Now

    11/05/17 -- Pima County Justice Court's warrant resolution program honored by state
    Arizona Daily Star

    10/12/17 -- From bank robber to law professor: A story of redemption
    CBS News

    10/09/17 -- Congress can help strengthen families and community by acting on criminal justice reform
    The Hill

    10/06/17 -- Justice Court, Tucson City Court participating in warrant resolution night

    10/04/17 -- MacArthur's Safety + Justice Challenge announces additional $11.3 million for eight jurisdictions to advance local criminal justice reform
    Safety and Justice Challenge

    09/2017 -- Opening doors
    Vera Institute of Justice

    09/21/17 -- Women, drugs and Arizona Prisons
    Tucson News Now

    09/20/17 -- How to fight modern-day debtors' prison? Sue the courts
    The Marshall Project

    08/25/17 -- Cash bail's lonely defender
    NY Times

    08/18/17 -- Logging in when you're locked up - tablets in jail

    08/07/17 -- Study finds increased incarceration has marginal-to-zero impact on crime
    Equal Justice Initiative

    08/04/17 -- A traffic ticket shouldn't ruin your life
    Pima County Government

    08/02/17 -- Leaving prison, women often face a challenge men don't: motherhood

    07/27/17 -- Program helps mentally ill inmates get better

    07/22/17 -- New Jersey eliminates most cash bail, leads nation in reforms

    07/21/17 -- Active warrants fall to new lows in Tucson, Pima County Courts
    Arizona Daily Star

    07/21/17 -- Department of Labor awards $236,000 grant to Pima County to assist homeless veterans
    Pima County Government

    07/19/17 -- Defendants can't be jailed solely because of  inability to post bail, judge says
    NY Times

    07/17/17 -- Proposed ACA cuts would endanger justice-involved people with disabilities
    Vera Institute of Justice 

    07/17/17 -- A matter of time: the causes and consequences of rising time served in America's prisons
    Urban Institute

    07/17/17 -- Jail reform must address mental health, substance dependence
    Arizona Capital Times

    07/06/17 -- Rural America's Jail Dilemma
    The Crime Report

    06/20/17 -- Editorial by Chuck Huckelberry: Suspends driver's license laws criminalize poverty
    Arizona Daily Star

    06/14/17 -- Nuts and Bolts of Creating a Diversion Program Video
    Pima County Safety + Justice Challenge

    05/25/17 -- Keeping the jail population down
    Tucson News Now

    05/18/17 -- Tucson Police to be trained in handling mental health crisis calls
    Arizona Daily Star

    05/16-17/17 -- Decriminalizing Mental Illness Conference Video
    Pima County Safety + Justice Challenge

    04/29/17 -- Judge in Houston strikes down Harris County's bail system

    04/27/17 -- Pima County to screen arrestees for behavioral health-issues
    Arizona Daily Star

    04/06/17 -- Saturday's Warrant Resolution event to include Justice Municipal Courts
    Arizona Daily Star

    04/05/17 -- Drug offenders celebrate graduation instead of enduring prison sentence
    Tucson News Now

    02/01/17 -- The Mental Health Investigative Support Team (MHIST) Model... 
    Psychiatry Online

    02/01/17 -- MacArthur Foundation Press Release
    Pima County Safety + Justice Challenge


    11/09/16 -- Incoming Sheriff Mark Napier ready to get back into law enforcement
    Arizona Daily Star

    11/08/16 -- New Mexico votes to reform bail system that jails people just because they're poor Huffingtonpost

    10/08/16 -- $500k grant to fund job-training for Pima County jail inmates
    Arizona Daily Star

    10/04/16 -- Pima County major achievements over the past 20 years
    Pima County

    09/30/16 -- Felons in County jails to be allowed to vote in California elections
    LA Times

    09-10/16 -- Thousands of girls are locked up for talking back or staying out late
    Mother Jones

    09/02/16 -- Safety and Justice Challenge Announces Collaborative Members
    Pima County Safety + Justice Challenge

    09/02/16 -- The Unmaking of a Murderer
    Barbara Sattler

    08/30/16 -- Tucson's Mental Health Investigation Support Team...

    08/29/16 -- Bail bond industry to fight change to 'no money' system
    Arizona Capital Times

    07/22/16 -- Rebuilding on the outside
    Arizona Public Media

    07/19/16 -- Virginia high courts hears republican voting-rights lawsuit

    07/18/16 -- The Harris County DA invites law-breaking citizens to make-it-right 

    07/11/16 -- Opposing protesters meet in Dallas

    06/27/16 -- Justice Department mandates implicit bias training for agents, lawyers

    06/24/16 -- Pell grants for prisoners: Obama to give inmates a second chance at college
    USA Today

    06/2016 -- America's top five deadliest prosecutors: how overzealous personalities drive the death penalty Fair Punishment Project

    05/30/16 -- Pima County to present plans for reducing jail population
    Arizona Daily Star

    05/24/16 -- Have you ever been arrested?
    The New York Times

    05/11/16 -- Is America Engaged in a 'vicious circle' of jailing the poor?
    National Public Radio (NPR)

    D.C. Judge Truman A. Morrison to speak on bail reforms

    Pima County announces 18-member Safety and Justice Challenge Community Collaborative

    Arizona police sign on to the White House plan to cut jail populations

    Efforts begin to reduce Pima County Jail population - Tucson News Now

    Pima County to present plans to reduce jail population - Arizona Daily Star

    Pima County goal: Reduce jail population in three years

    $1.5 million grant to help Pima County reduce jail population - Arizona Public Media Pima County receives prestigious grant to reduce jail population - Tucson News Now Pima County awarded grant to reduce jail population MacArthur Foundation bails out jurisdictions that jail too many - Huffington Post $1.5 million grant to help reduce Pima jail population - Tucson Sentinel

    Arizona Daily Star Story: Pima Seeks Grant to Cut Jail Population

    Pima County participating in the MacArthur Foundation's Safety and Justice Challenge

    County leaders hold community forum to discuss jail overcrowding

    Discussions revolve around who is incarcerated, how to address inequities

    Safety and Justice Challenge committee members discussion

    Judge Davis encouraged by Pima County's efforts

    Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration on Families

    crime vs jailEach year, the United States spends $80 billion to lock away more than 2.4 million people in its jails and prisons, budgetary allocations that far outpace
    spending on housing, transportation, and higher education.

    Estimates report that nearly 40% of all crimes are directly attributable to poverty and the vast majority (80%) of incarcerated individuals are low-income.

    More than 77 million Americans have a criminal record, meaning that almost one in three adults currently is or has been involved with the criminal justice system. Between 1970 and 2005, our prison
    population increased 700 percent, largely as a result of the war on drugs.

    Of the $80 billion spent on incarceration today, almost $50 billion comes from state spending alone.

    Research has shown that upwards of 60% of formerly incarcerated people remain unemployed even one year after release; for many, finding stable employment is often unattainable even years after release. 

    According to a 2010 study, nearly three million children in America have at least one parent in prison, and children of color are far more likely than white children to have an incarcerated parent. 

    Incarceration has devastating physical, mental, and emotional health impacts on individuals, including those who already faced health problems before entering the system. People who are incarcerated are also likely to suffer from higher rates of chronic disease.

    Currently, six out of ten incarcerated individuals in the United States are held in pretrial detention without convictions. In some states, this number is as high as 62% of the county jail population.

    arrests vs bail

    Beyond Mental Illness

    For people with mental illness in jail, their illness is often at the center of several interrelated problems.

    A Bureau of Justice Statistics study published in 2006 – the most recent national study of its kind – showed that people with mental illnesses in jail are more likely than others to experience homelessness, unemployment, and substance abuse.*

    Seventeen percent of people with mental illness in jail were homeless in the year before their arrest, compared to 9 percent of the rest of the jail population.

    Nearly a third of the people in jail with mental illnesses were unemployed in the month before arrest, compared to less than a quarter of the rest of the jail population.

    Thirty-four percent of people with mental illness in jail were using drugs at the time of their arrest compared to 20 percent of the rest of the jail population. Fifteen percent of people with mental illnesses were using both drugs and alcohol at the time of their arrest compared to 7 percent of the rest of the jail population.

    *Doris J. James and Lauren Glaze, Mental Health Problems of Prison and Jail Inmates (Washington, D.C. US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2006); p.4.


    2022 Tucson Palooza

    Department of Justice Services and The YWCA of Southern Arizona, supporting Tucson Palooza 2022


    India Davis

    Pima County Corrections Chief India Davis leads a table discussion during a Safety & Justice Challenge Community Conversation
    hosted by the YWCA and the Safety & Justice Planning Team on Oct. 26, 2015.

    See more photos.

    macarthur meeting
    Jessie Warner, an associate with Justice System Partners, takes notes during a discussion on local data gathered through the Safety and Justice Challenge.

    See more photos.

    judge davisSenior Judge Andre Davis of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals discusses “Racial and Ethnic Equality in the Criminal Justice System" as part of Pima County's participation in the Safety and Justice Challenge.

    See more photos.
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    Tucson, AZ 85701


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