Missoula Officials Apply For Grants To Address Jail Overcrowding | Fox Montana

By Parker Collins

MISSOULA - It was the core of an ACLU report released in February outlining poor conditions in Montana's jails: overcrowding.

Now, Missoula County takes its first steps toward fixing its jail overcrowding issue.

County Commissioners say money from two grants could be coming in soon, but they're a little unconventional.

County Commissioner Cola Rowley said Thursday she's working on a grant through the University of Utah. Instead of applying with a project in mind, though, applicants actually send in a problem that needs fixed.

This "pay for success" model only makes investors give money if an idea works.

A go-between works with consultants to decide what concepts might solve the designated problem, in this case overcrowding in at the Missoula County Detention Center.

The application is due next week.

"It's only funding projects that are successful. If it's not successful, people know they're not going to receive their money and so they're going to stop the project," said Rowley.

The Grants and Community Program Department is working on a separate planning grant from the MacArthur Foundation. The $150,000 would go toward identifying the causes of over-incarceration. It would come with the possibility of more funding to start programs to address these root causes.