MacArthur Foundation grants aimed at reducing numbers of people locked up in US jails

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is giving 20 jails of all sizes $150,000 each to come up with ways to reduce the number of people unnecessarily behind bars.

The jails announced Wednesday to receive planning grants include the nation's biggest jails in Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago. But they also include smaller systems such as Boise, Idaho, and Mesa County, Colorado.

MacArthur President Julia Stasch says the money comes from $75 million the Chicago-based charitable group has pledged to give over five years to bring more fairness to the criminal justice system.

About 12 million people annually pass through roughly 3,000 jails nationwide. Many are nonviolent offenders, mentally ill and people who can't afford bail.