SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO)– Minnehaha County received a $700,000 grant by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which will continue collaboration with local leaders and the community regarding the local criminal justice system. This grant focuses specifically on community engagement and enhanced data utilization for the evaluation to inform future work.

The foundation’s total investment in Minnehaha County is $1.45 million to date and is part of the $246 million Safety and Justice Challenge national initiative.

The Safety and Justice Challenge supports local leaders and individuals most impacted by the justice system. Minnehaha County was selected to join the Safety and Justice Challenge system related strategies.

“Our continued partnership with the MacArthur Foundation will assist us in building upon existing relationships and ensure our work actively responds to the community’s needs,” Minnehaha County Commissioner Cindy Heiberger said in a news release about the grant.

Minnehaha County has developed a comprehensive plan for strategies and initiatives to implement over the next two years in partnership with South Dakota 2nd Circuit Unified Judicial System, Minnehaha County Sheriff’s Office, Sioux Falls Police Department, Minnehaha County State’s Attorney, Minnehaha County Public Defender, Minnehaha County Office of Public Advocate and Minnehaha County Human Services.

Strategies include pre-arrest, pretrial, court case processing, mental health services and addressing racial equity through community engagement.

“I am looking forward to expanding the availability of resources in our community for populations who have previously been underserved,” presiding Judge Robin Houwman, 2nd Circuit, said in a news release.

More information about the work underway in Minnehaha County can be found online.

Think3D has expanded their successful Leaders of Tomorrow program and created a specific curriculum for Leaders of Tomorrow for justice impacted. Urban Indian Health will offer
culturally-based mental health, substance use, mentoring, and culturally based programs and services. Funding has also been allocated to collaboratively bring training and a conference
regarding equity to our community.

More than five years after its public launch, the Safety and Justice Challenge has grown into a collaborative of 51 jurisdictions in 32 states modeling and inspiring reforms to create more fair, just and equitable local justice systems across the country.

“We are committed to supporting cities and counties as they reimagine a definition of safety that is inclusive of all communities and makes meaningful progress towards our goal of ending racial and ethnic disparities in jails,” said Laurie Garduque, MacArthur Foundation’s Director of
Criminal Justice.

Several of the nation’s leading criminal justice organizations will continue to provide technical assistance and counsel to Minnehaha County, their partners, and the other jurisdictions involved in the Safety and Justice Challenge.