Vera is helping cities and counties around the country end their overreliance on jails and create new pathways to community safety and health that prioritize racial equity and repairing harm caused by mass incarceration. Vera works collaboratively with local governments and communities to study jail use and jail population trends and to provide recommendations for safely decarcerating while creating fairer and more effective local justice systems. We have worked with three counties in Oklahoma (Oklahoma County (Oklahoma City), Tulsa County (Tulsa), and Rogers County (Claremore)); Whatcom County (Bellingham) and Seattle in Washington; Luzerne County (Wilkes-Barre) in Pennsylvania; and Wayne County (Detroit) in Michigan. We are currently partnering with the City of Atlanta, Georgia, to close the Atlanta City Detention Center, making possible the vision of community and government leaders to transform the jail into a resource center that serves Atlantans most impacted by mass incarceration.

Vera is also providing technical assistance to five sites—Allegheny County, Pennsylvania (Pittsburgh); Buncombe County, North Carolina (Asheville); Milwaukee County, Wisconsin; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Spokane County, Washington—through the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

Project Objectives

  • Reduce reliance on local jails and create new pathways to community well-being and safety

  • Make local justice systems more fair, equitable, and safe

  • Develop local models for jail decarceration that advance racial equity and build community power

Key Fact

The number of people held in jails increased by more than 400% from 1970 to 2014.