Rural communities face unique challenges that impact their ability to deliver fair and equitable justice. Despite these challenges, rural communities rely on their many strengths to address the needs of their residents. In 2021, the National Center for State Courts, in partnership with Rulo Strategies, launched the Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) to showcase the strengths of rural communities and highlight the cross-sector collaboration that is a hallmark of rural justice systems. These strengths include strong professional networks, deep ties to the communities they serve, resiliency, and ingenuity. A cross-sector Advisory Council composed of rural judges and stakeholders in the justice, public safety, child welfare, public health, and behavioral health systems guide the work of the RJC. The current Advisory Council is composed of ten rural judges and nine rural justice stakeholders representing diverse disciplines.
The RJC Innovation Sites are the foundation of the RJC’s peer-to-peer training and technical assistance program designed to build rural justice systems’ capacity. RJC Innovation sites showcase work in rural communities that enhances rural justice systems and celebrates the people who make these efforts possible. Through a rolling nomination process, the RJC’s Advisory Council has selected 18 rural innovation sites to date. Rural communities can access the resources and information needed to replicate components of these initiatives through case studies, webinars, and podcasts hosted on RJC’s Online Resource Center.