Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

Rural Justice

Rural areas and their justice systems routinely have fewer resources and more barriers than their urban counterparts, such as availability of services, lack of transportation, and smaller workforces.  Programs and practices that are effective in urban areas are often inappropriate and or lack supported research for implementation in rural areas.  SJI supports rural courts by identifying promising and best practices, and promoting resources, education, and training opportunities uniquely designed for rural courts and court users.


Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic

The Rural Responses to the Opioid Epidemic leverages the combined resources and expertise of the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State Justice Institute (SJI), along with other federal partners, to reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with opioid overdoses among individuals who come in contact with law enforcement or are involved in the criminal justice system in high-risk rural communities and regions.  Twenty-one rural communities across the country that have been substantially impacted by the opioid epidemic were selected to participate in the initiative, which includes a six-month planning phase to identify gaps and an 18-month implementation phase to expand or enhance existing efforts or implement new programs and practices.


Rural Justice Collaborative

The Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC), coordinated by the National Center for State Courts in partnership with Rulo Strategies, examines the unique strengths of rural communities and highlights the cross-sector collaboration that is a hallmark of rural justice systems. The project will spotlight innovative practices, support rural communities in their efforts to build capacity and enhance partnerships, and strengthen communities’ outcomes. The RJC will be guided by a cross-sector advisory board comprised of rural judges and other justice partners from different regions of the country and national stakeholder groups. The RJC will consist of two key components: develop, deploy, and grow an online Rural Justice Resource Center and establish strong peer to peer learning networks for rural communities.

The RJC will initially focus on the following components of rural justice that center on principles of access and fairness:

  • Increasing access to behavioral health treatment.
  • Reducing victimization.
  • Facilitating employment/educational opportunities for justice involved individuals.
  • Eliminating barriers of access to justice.
  • Reducing incarceration.
  • Facilitating reentry.
  • Reducing the number of children in foster care due to substance use disorders.