Center for Justice & Safety Finance
Addressing Systemic Racism
The killings of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor are only the most recent reminders that the greatest challenge our government partners often face is systemic racism. Systemic racism is the process by which policies, practices, representations and norms work to reinforce racial inequities. Pervasive inequality for the Black community in economic, educational and health outcomes is the result. In the criminal justice system, it has led to policies, patterns of conduct and practices that have often resulted in two types of justice — one Black and one White.
Systemic racism — and systemic bias — are fundamentally wrong, unjust and at odds with effective governance and the overall soundness of a local economy. In other words, it is against everything that we stand for and that our clients should stand for. But it is not enough to just acknowledge the problem. In our role as trusted advisors to state and local government, we are obligated to act. We have already done so. And we are committed to doing more.
Police Misconduct Is Increasingly a Financial Issue
Bill Lee Has a Chance to Unite State and Local Governments for Justice Reform
Nashville Mayor David Briley Favors Cutting Court Fines and Fees
Ramsey County Joins National Effort to Reduce Reliance on Criminal Fines
Budgeting in Uncertain Times
Prior to COVID-19, criminal justice and public safety best practices focused on both increasing justice and safety and reducing costs. As local governments face unprecedented fiscal challenges from the pandemic, what were previously considered best practices are now imperative practices for many jurisdictions. Watch our recent roundtable discussion, where practitioners and CJSF experts provide a high-level framework to begin confronting the significant and evolving challenges around budget, criminal justice, and public safety during the most uncertain times.
Fine & Fee Initiative
A number of local governments have been working to reform the fine and fee structure within their criminal justice system, in part because research has demonstrated that relying on this type of fine and fee revenue may often be counterproductive –
creating additional cost that can sometimes equal or exceed revenue – and unnecessarily burdening lower income criminal defendants with no significant public safety benefit.
With a $1.2 million grant from Arnold Ventures, the PFM Center for Justice & Safety Finance (CJSF) is currently providing technical assistance at no cost* to three major U.S. counties (Dallas, Nashville-Davidson, and Ramsey, MN) to reduce their reliance on fines and fees from the criminal justice system as a source of revenue.
*Subject to certain terms and conditions, including selection to participate in the initiative.