Safety and Justice Challenge

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Strategic Alliance

For more than 100 years, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association has been on the forefront of the effort to promote excellence in the delivery of public defense and civil legal aid. Fair, effective pretrial practices that provide the highest manner of justice have been a central tenet of NLADA’s mission and its national standards for quality representation.

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.

As a Strategic Ally of the Challenge, NLADA is working with defenders from each jurisdiction to promote their leadership and share essential information from the Challenge with the broader public defense community. NLADA will provide the following services and tools to the entire Challenge Network:

  • Toolkits, resource guides, training materials and webinars - developed with Challenge partners and sites - pertaining to pretrial justice and early access to counsel
  • Peer-networking and information-sharing among Challenge Network defenders, and with NLADA's community of defender, civil legal aid, and client advocates
  • Communications and strategic problem-solving support to inform, engage, and encourage broad public defense community participation in the Challenge

Current Results of the Safety and Justice Challenge

Over the course of 2018 and early 2019, NLADA, as a Safety and Justice Challenge Strategic Ally, created a four-part vidcast series highlighting the work of several defenders involved with the SJC. The Strategic Allies and members of the Challenge Network are still hard at work changing the lives of millions and ensuring that equal access to justice is available for all. These videos provide a glimpse into the defenders' work as well as the significance of collaboration among each Strategic Ally and member of the Challenge Network. View the clips below:





   CLICK HERE to view the entire video







   CLICK HERE to view the entire video






   CLICK HERE to view the entire video







  CLICK HERE to view the entire video




Challenge Network Defenders

The 40 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. 

NLADA coordinates and supports defender leaders in these sites.

Implementation Sites

Innovation Sites

Ada County, ID

Allegheny County, PA

Buncombe County, NC

Charleston County, SC

City and County of San Francisco, CA

Clark County, NV

Cook County, IL

East Baton Rouge Parish, LA

Harris County, TX

Lake County, IL

Los Angeles County, CA

Lucas County, OH

Mecklenburg County, NC

Mesa County, CO

Milwaukee County, WI

Minnehaha County, SD

Missoula County, MT

Multnomah County, OR

New Orleans, LA

New York, NY

Palm Beach County, FL

Pennington County, SD

Philadelphia, PA

Pima County, AZ

St. Louis County, MO

Shelby County, TN

Spokane County, WA

The State of Connecticut

Adams County, CO

Baltimore City, MD

Bernalillo County, NM

Broward County, FL

Camden County, NJ

Campbell County, TN

City of Atlanta, GA

City of Long Beach, CA

City of St. Louis, MO

Cumberland County, ME

Dane County, WI

Deschutes County, OR

Durham County, NC

Franklin County, OH

Gwinnett County, GA

Hennepin County, MN

Norfolk County, MA

Polk County, IA

Sangamon County, IL

Santa Clara County, CA

State of Delaware

Summit County, OH

Tulsa County, OK

Yakima County, WA



Resources from NLADA



Communications Toolkit

A guide to key values, messages, and strategies for engaging stakeholders, media, and community members in ensuring early access to counsel.




Cornerstone Interview with Atlanta Public Defender

Perspectives on holistic defense, research, and defender leadership from an Innovation Fund site.




Cornerstone Interview with NLADA and APA 

A conversation about collaboration with NLADA's Jo-Ann Wallace and the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys' (APA) David LaBahn.




Resource Guide

Primers on standards, research, policy, and practice related to pretrial reform.