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Denton, Texas courthouse
Denton, Texas courthouse.
RURAL JUSTICE COLLABORATIVE

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.

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.

The RJC concentrates on the following areas of focus:

The work under the RJC is supported by a cross-sector advisory council composed of rural judges along with additional stakeholders in the justice, child welfare, and behavioral health systems. The advisory council will guide the multi-year initiative and identify innovative programs and practices.

Key activities in year 1 include:

ONLINE RESOURCE CENTER. Establish an online resource center that will serve as a national clearinghouse of promising and innovative rural justice practices that reflect the aforementioned areas of focus.

PEER-TO-PEER LEARNING. Identify mentor sites that will host virtual or in-person site visits, answer questions from other rural communities via phone, email, or webinars, and participate in conferences and workshops to share promising and innovative rural justice practices. A nomination and selection process will be used to identify approximately 18 mentor sites that reflect one or more of the areas of focus.

In years 2 and 3, the RJC will support team-based peer-to-peer exchanges and two regional rural justice conferences. The proposed initiative builds upon the Rural Responses to Opioid Epidemic Initiative co-funded by the State Justice Institute (SJI), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This work supports judicial participation in 21 rural demonstration projects designed to support SUD-related prevention treatment, and/or recovery services for individuals who encounter the criminal justice system. This RJC will reach a broader judicial audience through the online resource center and peer-to-peer exchanges. The RJC will also address two SJI priority investment areas: improving court responses to justice-involved persons with behavioral health needs and supporting rural courts by identifying promising and best practices.

The proposed initiative builds upon the Rural Responses to Opioid Epidemic Initiative co-funded by the State Justice Institute (SJI), Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This work supports judicial participation in 21 rural demonstration projects designed to support SUD-related prevention treatment, and/or recovery services for individuals who  encounter the criminal justice system. This RJC will reach a broader judicial audience through the online resource center and peer-to-peer exchanges. The RJC will also address two SJI priority investment areas: improving court responses to justice-involved persons with behavioral health needs and supporting rural courts by identifying promising and best practices.


The Rural Justice Collaborative was developed under grant number SJI-21-P-031 from the State Justice Institute. The points of view expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the State Justice Institute.