The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office One of 12 Counties and Cities to Receive Grants to Design, Test Innovative Criminal Justice Reforms

Staff Report From Metro Atlanta CEO

Monday, November 5th, 2018

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is one of 12 additional jurisdictions joining the Safety and Justice Challenge, a national $148 million initiative to reduce over-incarceration by changing the way America thinks about and uses jails. Gwinnett County and the other jurisdictions will design and test innovative local justice reforms designed to safely drive down jail usage and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in their local justice systems.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office was chosen following a highly competitive selection process that drew applications from across the country.

“There is growing demand for criminal justice reform across the country, and local jurisdictions are leading the way,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur’s Director of Justice Reform. “MacArthur is increasing our investment in local justice reform innovations because we are seeing promising results and an appetite for more reform as evidenced by the diversity and creativity of the solutions implemented and tested across the Network.”

Through the Challenge’s Innovation Fund Gwinnett will receive support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms. Gwinnett County’s innovations will focus on improving its ability to link ex-offenders to community programs with the goal of reducing the jail population and increasing the Gwinnett Reentry Intervention Program’s capacity.

“The Gwinnett Reentry Intervention Program is fortunate to have many community partners providing resources for inmates returning to the community. Pokket will reduce the amount of time our staff spends coordinating those resources, making the program more effective in meeting its goal of reducing recidivism in our county.” said Sheriff Butch Conway.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office and the other Innovation Fund jurisdictions will receive short-term support of $50,000 each, are eligible for future funding opportunities, and have access to the resources, peer learning opportunities, and expertise of the Safety and Justice Challenge Network. The Urban Institute, which is managing the Innovation Fund in partnership with the Foundation, will provide expert technical assistance to the jurisdictions as they implement their plans. Key learnings and resources emerging from the Innovation Fund will be shared with and beyond the justice reform field.

As in most jurisdictions, The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office is continuously seeking to close the gap between resources and the citizens who need them. To address this issue in the local justice system, in 2012 Sheriff Butch Conway started the Gwinnett Re-entry Intervention Program with the goal of reducing recidivism in Gwinnett County. Since 2012, GRIP has connected over three thousand individuals with the services they require in order to become stable members of the community. GRIP in partnership with Acivilate, an Atlanta-based developer of Pokket, applied for the Safety and Justice Innovation Fund Grant offered by the MacArthur Foundation and Urban Institute. With this award, the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office will adopt Pokket to manage the reentry process. Pokket is a comprehensive case management system that will allow GRIP to maximize its output and increase its capacity to serve. Pokket takes the process of connecting exoffenders to community programs, which can sometimes take weeks, and facilitates the process in a manner that can take as little as a few hours. We are very excited to have this opportunity and look forward to growing Sheriff Conway’s vision in collaboration with the Macarthur Foundation, Urban Institute, and Acivilate.

“Pokket is designed to safely and securely coordinate the delivery of services to reduce the number of people going back to jail, and we’re thankful to support GRIP in making a difference in our local community,” said Louise Wasilewski, CEO, Acivilate.

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office will continue to place an emphasis on community engagement and collaboration among local law enforcement, corrections officials, prosecutors, defenders, judges, and other stakeholders in this work to test, innovate, and drive reform.

The Innovation Fund jurisdictions expand the Challenge’s reach into new states and deepen its work across the country. They include:

• Baltimore City, MD

• Bernalillo County, NM

• Camden County, NJ

• Cumberland County, ME

• Franklin County, OH

• Gwinnett County, GA

• Hennepin County, MN

• City of Long Beach, CA

• Norfolk County, MA

• Sangamon County, IL

• City of St. Louis, MO

• Tulsa County, OK