News Flash

Board of County Commissioners

Posted on: February 8, 2023

Lucas County awarded capstone $480,000 grant by MacArthur Foundation Safety + Justice Challenge

Funding Will Support Lucas County’s Ongoing Public Safety and Racial Equity Initiatives at the Local Level

TOLEDO, OH. February 8, 2023 – Lucas County is the recipient of a capstone $480,000 grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. This award is the culmination of Lucas County’s eight years of progress toward safely reducing the local jail population and addressing inequities in the justice system in collaboration with local leaders and community members. The grant marks a total of $5.1 million invested in Lucas County as part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, a $323 million national initiative to reduce over-incarceration and eliminate racial inequity in local criminal justice systems. 

Since being selected to join the Safety and Justice Challenge Network in 2015, Lucas County has remained committed to addressing the factors that contribute to over-incarceration in America. Through the implementation of evidence-based strategies and policies at a local level, Lucas County successfully and safely reduced the jail population by 36 percent over the past eight years. Through a collaborative process, Lucas County has implemented strategies that address various facets of criminal justice reform, including criminal justice practices, managing based on risk, improving case processing, diversion of underserved populations, coordinated community corrections practices, reducing racial and ethnic disparities, community engagement through neighborhood programming, and SJC amplification.

Looking to the future, Lucas County will continue to partner to carry forward the successes achieved during the SJC. The County will utilize this capstone grant to fund the Toledo Municipal Court Diversion Program, which has had 1,311 defendants, or 78 percent of those who entered the program, successfully complete program requirements resulting in the dismissal of charges. Lucas County also will fund the Reentry on the First Day program, which reviews the sentenced jail population at the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio to reduce the length of their sentence. So far, 84 candidates have participated in the program, saving Lucas County more than 1,000 days in bed stays. 

“We are thrilled the John D. and Catharine T. MacArthur Foundation has decided to continue to support Lucas County’s efforts to maintain and strengthen the strategies that have proven effective in the continuous double-digit reduction of the local jail population over the last eight years. The strategies that have been implemented through the Safety and Justice Challenge have provided a solid base on which to build on our local justice reform efforts and strengthen the work in the long term to continue preventing unnecessary incarceration in Lucas County,” the Lucas County Commissioners said.

This round of funding will solidify Lucas County’s ability to sustain long-term public safety initiatives and will also promote continuity at the county level of the strategies Lucas County developed throughout its participation in the Safety and Justice Challenge.

Other results include a grant program to provide funding to provide opportunities for community-based organizations to support neighborhood programming in four Toledo ZIP codes to address racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system and to safely reduce the local jail population.

The County’s community engagement initiative, which began in 2021, has provided funding to 15 non-profit groups to support 19 neighborhood programs, including Open Arms Transitional Living, which assists homeless youth or youth in need, ages 16 to 20 years old. 

“We were blessed to be one of the recipients of grants to further the goals of Lucas County’s participation in the MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge,” Open Arms Transitional Living Executive Director Fonda Royster said. “This grant has allowed our organization with the opportunity to provide young people experiencing hardships, including some who were homeless, with healthy meals, hygiene and toiletry products, clothing, shoes, and transportation assistance. These basic necessities are allowing these young people to stay in school to pursue careers and reach successful outcomes.”

Lucas County also will continue to work with community partners and leaders to improve relationships and deepen the community engagement around racial equity initiatives, and will be hosting a summit for Safety and Justice recipients and creating liaisons between community partners and the criminal justice system to enhance this effort. 

In addition, Lucas County will collaborate with WGTE Public Media to produce a 10-episode documentary podcast to highlight the County’s success in implementing strategies through the Safety and Justice and Challenge initiative.

More than seven years since its public launch, the Safety and Justice Challenge has grown into a collaborative network of 74 sites in 33 states modeling and inspiring reforms to create more fair, just, and equitable local justice systems across the country. 

“I am proud to celebrate and reflect on the progress made by the Safety and Justice Challenge cities and counties over the past seven years. This initiative shows that communities can bridge their differences in pursuit of a more equitable and just response to people in conflict with the law,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur Foundation’s Director of Criminal Justice. “With innovative and evidence-based solutions now in place, these communities have the framework to sustain their progress and the tools to respond to the challenges that lay ahead.” 

A number of organizations will continue to provide technical assistance and counsel to Lucas County partners, and the other jurisdictions involved in the Safety and Justice Challenge. These include Activating Change, the Alliance for Safety and Justice, the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Center for American Progress, the Council on Criminal Justice, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the Center for Court Innovation, Everyday Democracy, the Institute for State and Local Governance at the City University of New York, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, JFA Institute, JustLeadershipUSA, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, the Leadership Conference Education Fund, the National Association of Counties, the National Center for State Courts, the National Center for Victims of Crime, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the National League of Cities, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association, the Pretrial Justice Institute, Policy Research, Inc., Prison Policy Initiative, R Street Institute, Race Forward, Shriver Center on Poverty Law, The Justice Management Institute, the Vera Institute of Justice, the W. Haywood Burns Institute, Urban Institute, and Bennett Midland.

More information about the work underway in Lucas County can be found on Lucas County, OH - Safety and Justice Challenge as well as on


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 advancing global climate solutions, decreasing nuclear risk, promoting local justice reform in the U.S., and reducing corruption in Africa’s most populous country, Nigeria. In addition to the MacArthur Fellows Program and the global 100&Change competition, the Foundation continues its historic commitments to the role of journalism in a responsive democracy as well as the vitality of our headquarters city, Chicago. More information about the Foundation’s criminal justice reform work can be found at

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