The National League of Cities (NLC) selected the City of Gainesville as one of five cities participating in an initiative to reduce unnecessarily high and racially disparate jail populations through city leadership. In addition to Gainesville, Florida, the NLC chose Birmingham, Alabama; Madison, Wisconsin; St. Louis, Missouri and Savannah, Georgia to participate in this project, known as Cities Lead to Reduce the Use of Jails.
“Gainesville’s selection to participate in this important initiative reflects our community’s commitment to change practices that contribute to youth incarceration, mental illness, racial and ethnic disparities within our community,” said Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.
The city’s partnership with the National League of Cities reflects a broader effort to enable our citizens to achieve their aspirations and, in doing so, become a prototype for the “New American City” as the most citizen centered municipality in the nation.
The overuse of jails constitutes a critical, under-addressed aspect of America’s mass incarceration crisis and has ongoing, destructive effects in America’s cities. NLC’s work with these five cities is part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative focusing on the overuse of local jails and has begun to generate a national movement to change the way America thinks about and uses jails.
As a strategic ally in the challenge, the NLC recognizes that city leaders have a core responsibility to improve public safety, and have opportunities to reduce the harm caused by current jail-related policies. Gainesville, Florida, along with the four other newly selected cities, joins 40 communities already selected to receive challenge support.
“We are excited to see the efforts already underway in the five selected cities and look forward to helping them take the next steps in preventing the overuse of jails,” said Clifford Johnson, executive director of the Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF Institute).