Innovation Sites

Nineteen of the country’s most innovative rural justice programs have been selected to serve as models for other communities by the Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) Advisory Council. Applications for additional innovation sites are currently being accepted.

Benevolence Farm

Location: North Carolina

Cities/Counties served: Alamance County and rural communities

Website

Program description: Benevolence Farm is a trauma-informed, nonprofit social enterprise that provides transitional employment and housing for formerly incarcerated women in Alamance County and rural communities in North Carolina. As part of the program, residents develop various life skills, including small business practices, sustainable farming, and food and product preparation. The program does not discriminate based on the offense, sentence length, or mental health diagnosis and residents can live at the farm for up to two years. Benevolence Farm has five full-time staff and several part-time team members, who coordinate reentry needs, manage the farm, and design the body care enterprise program. Community organizations provide wraparound services and staff assist residents look for independent housing and employment.


Eastern Shore Mobile Care Collaborative at Caroline County Health Department

Location: Maryland

Cities/Counties served: Caroline County

Website

Program description: The Eastern Shore Mobile Care Collaborative expands access to behavioral health treatment and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for people with opioid use disorders in rural Maryland. Caroline County employees staff the onsite mobile clinics, and the University of Maryland School of Medicine provides physicians who evaluate and diagnose patients, prescribe medications, and offer advice about program improvements. The onsite treatment team includes a peer recovery specialist, a nurse, and a substance use counselor.


Family Accountability and Recovery Court

Location: North Carolina

Cities/Counties served: Greene, Lenoir, and Wayne Counties

Program description: The 8th District Family Accountability and Recovery Court provides services and opportunities for families involved in the child welfare system due to allegations of child abuse, neglect or other parenting issues related to substance dependence. Clients are referred to this court after the Department of Social Services files a petition regarding the children’s wellbeing. There are five phases of the program intended to facilitate wholistic treatment, provide meaningful opportunities and, if possible, reunite families.

Phase 1 involves the initial intake and screening process, while Phase 2 begins substance-abuse treatment. Phases 3 and 4 assess other potential issues with which clients might struggle. These phases are also where the program seeks to address environmental and financial stability through housing, employment, and educational opportunities and partnerships. Phase 5 focuses on aftercare.


For All Seasons, Inc.

Location: Maryland

Cities/Counties served: Primarily Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne's, and Talbot Counties. Also serve additional counties throughout the Eastern Shore and the state of Maryland through telehealth.

Website

Program description: For All Seasons, Inc. is a behavioral health and rape crisis center that serves rural counties along Maryland's Eastern Shore. With a team of health care providers, For All Seasons offers therapy, psychiatry, rape crisis and mental health services to clients regardless of one's ability to pay. For All Seasons’ partners include the Governor's Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, & Victim Services, the State Attorney's Office, social services, emergency medical services, law enforcement, school systems, and county councils for referrals and community outreach. For All Seasons works with local businesses and organizations to offer mental health resources and trainings that reduce stigma, increase knowledge, and provide tools and skills that benefit the individuals and families across our community.


Gender Violence Initiative

Location: Puerto Rico

Cities/Counties served: Adjuntas, Jayuya, Lares, Utuado

Website

Program description: The Gender Violence Initiative is a court-based program that serves the population of a rural region in Puerto Rico. Through the program, court officials work alongside local nonprofit organizations and the local community to connect domestic and sexual violence survivors with victim services and offer a specialized gender court to hear their cases. The team assigned to the Gender Violence Court includes judges, assistant clerks, marshals, a program coordinator, among other court staff, under the supervision of the Administrative Judge of the Judicial Region of Utuado. Victims can connect with the court in person or remotely through videoconference on a mobile device or through means provided by local nonprofits. The court's use of technology increases access to justice and makes it easier for victims in rural areas to obtain a protection order and participate in other court proceedings. In addition to local community support, the initiative has the backing of the Chief Justice. Several government agencies also help support the initiative.


Journey Court

Location: Michigan

Cities/Counties served: Clinton and Gratiot Counties

Program description: Journey Court is a voluntary trauma-informed drug treatment court that provides treatment and intervention services for addicted justice-involved people in Clinton County Michigan. Journey Court provides various services to participants, including case management, referrals to treatment providers or inpatient facilities, peer recovery support, and relapse prevention planning. The Court has a substance use therapist and a peer recovery coach to help participants on their substance use recovery journey. Partners include prosecutors, indigent defense, the sheriff’s office, probation, and treatment providers. A Safe Center provides support to participants in domestic violence situations. Meetings with team members and stakeholders occur bi-monthly to coordinate their work.


Lazarus Recovery Services: Justice-Involved Initiative

Location: North Carolina

Cities/Counties served: Alexander, Alleghany, Ashe, Avery, Caldwell, Mitchell, Surry, Watauga, Wilkes, Yadkin and Yancey Counties

Website

Program description: The Lazarus Recovery Services: Justice-Involved Initiative, as a program of Project Lazarus, provides prevention and recovery support services to justice-involved individuals with substance or opioid use problems. Working with a team of health providers, public safety and judicial stakeholders, the program offers and links to various resources to people who struggle with substance use. It connects individuals with peer support specialists to create a recovery plan and helps support them through their recovery journey. For those currently in jail, the program provides educational materials about addiction and recovery.  It also gives naloxone, an FDA-approved medication designed to rapidly reverse opioid overdose, to people on their release from jail. Additionally, through their Lazarus FIRST (Families in Recovery Support Together) program, children of those with substance use and justice involved individuals have advocacy and support, whether or not involved with DSS CPS.

Rural community responses for positive outcomes for public health related issues (substance use disorder included) require strong collaboration with linkages to care in a continuum that removes gaps that so many in rural areas find themselves in and unable to navigate out. Our success is based on community collective efforts as no one organization or agency can do it alone.


Lyon County Human Services Forensic Assessment Triage Team

Location: Nevada

Cities/Counties served: Lyon County

Website

Program description: The Lyon County Human Services Forensic Assessment Triage Team is a jail-based community re-entry program in Nevada that provides treatment intervention and reentry facilitation for the Lyon County Jail. The multi-disciplinary Forensic Assessment Services Triage Team (FASTT) assesses the individual's mental health, substance use, basic needs, and risk of reoffending. By coordinating treatment and services for clients before release, the Team proactively addresses participants' underlying behavioral health issues. The FASTT team works closely with the sheriff's department to provide its services in the jail. A local treatment center connects participants with substance and mental health treatment, in-patient treatment (if necessary), transitional housing, medication in jail, and telehealth medication assessments for people who have been released. Community health providers and county and state officials are also partners in facilitating services.


Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement (ORACLE)

Location: New York

Cities/Counties served: Ulster County

Website (Ulster County Sheriff's App Download)

Program description: The Opioid Response as County Law Enforcement (ORACLE) initiative is a crisis-intervention and recovery response program based out of the Ulster County Sheriff's Office in Ulster County, New York. The response team includes crisis intervention team (CIT) officers, a mental health and substance use social worker, two peer recovery advocates, and a high-risk care manager. The ORACLE program provides direct assistance to people who overdose and works with government agencies, law enforcement organizations, and local community stakeholders to coordinate a wide array of services. State and county-level health departments, social services, and child services provide support, expertise, and referrals.


Public Defender Corporation Recovery Coach Project

Location: West Virginia

Cities/Counties served: Boone, Brooke, Cabell, Calhoun, Fayette, Greenbrier, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Lincoln, Logan, Marshall, McDowell, Mingo, Nicholas, Ohio, Pocahontas, Preston, Raleigh, Roane, Tyler, Wayne and Wetzel Counties

Website

Program description: The Public Defender Corporation Recovery Coach Project connects indigent criminal defendants with substance use disorders to certified peer recovery coaches. Peer recovery coaches arrange for substance use treatment opportunities immediately after a client is released from incarceration. Coaches follow up with clients 6-, 12- and 18-months after referral. The peer recovery coaches are employed by public defender corporations which are statutory, non-profit corporations funded by Public Defender Services, a state agency, to handle indigent cases in designated judicial circuits. By hiring peer recovery coaches directly, this model allows coaches to work directly with public defenders, referring clients early in the criminal justice process, often before bond conditions have been decided. This enables clients to enter substance treatment and frees public defenders to focus on their legal cases.


Rankin County Youth Court

Location: Mississippi

Cities/Counties served: Rankin County

Website

Program description: The Rankin County Youth Court provides various intervention and treatment programs for young people and their families in Mississippi. The Court is a juvenile court that handles both juvenile delinquency and child protection cases. Children receive evidence-based treatment for substance use and trauma and the court engages the child's family to create a better home environment. The Court's Parent Attorney Assistance Program connects indigent parents with an attorney through the Mississippi College of Law. From accusations of neglect to the termination of parental rights cases, qualifying parents receive free legal representation to help them through the court process, advise them about Child Protective Services' requests, and work towards reunification. The Court's programs are funded by Mississippi's Administrative Office of Courts, the Mississippi legislature, and a mix of federal and state grants. The Court coordinates with Child Protective Services, the Sheriff's Office, and school districts. The Court also works with mental health agencies and the University of Mississippi Medical Center.


Reaching Rural Initiative

Location: South Carolina

Cities/Counties served: All Rural Counties in South Carolina, with Victims' Rights Centers in Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper Counties.

Website

Program description: The Reaching Rural initiative provides resources to victims of crime in their local communities and remotely. The project partners with established local organizations in each rural county to create Victims’ Rights Centers (VRCs). The VRCs provide victims access to private office space that is equipped with a computer, secure internet connection, scanner, printer and a desk. The VRCs are located inside trusted community partners’ buildings and are unmarked from the outside. This anonymity gives victims access to the tools necessary to access victims’ services, meet with their attorney, attend court hearings, print documents, etc., privately and discreetly. The project has also started connecting victims to transition assistance and resources such as financial counseling, career development, employment opportunities and training. In addition to increasing access to victims’ services, the Reaching Rural initiative has a website with information (including a clickable resource map) for victims, victim service providers and volunteer attorneys. The website hosts an Advocacy Portal, where victim service providers and attorneys can access additional trainings and receive technical assistance through an exclusive forum. The project helped fund an app for victim service providers, which allows them to access our resource map offline, an important feature for advocates in rural areas who do not always have access to the internet.


Rural Incubator Project for Lawyers

Location: Montana

Cities/Counties served: State of Montana. RIPL Fellows and alumni are located throughout the state in the following counties: Red Lodge, Miles City, Helena, Great Falls, Polson, Kalispell, Glasgow, Nashua, Hot Springs, Lewistown, Bozeman and Ekalaka

Website

Program description: The Rural Incubator Project for Lawyers (RIPL) provides a 24-month fellowship program that trains and supports attorneys to develop solo or small firm practice that provide legal services to low-income Montanans in rural communities. Established by the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), the fellows are required to provide 300 hours of legal assistance annually to low-income clients pro bono or at a modest-means rate. The MLSA has a statewide legal services application system that allows low- and moderate-income people to request legal services through an online and phone-based application system. MLSA refers clients to RIPL Fellows who determine how best to handle clients’ needs, from providing legal advice in a phone consultation to accepting cases in limited or full-scope representation.


Scott County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Team

Location: Tennessee

Cities/Counties served: Scott County

Program description: The Scott County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Team is a multi-agency group that provides various services and support to victims of domestic violence, elder abuse, human trafficking and sexual assault. Meeting with their community partners and service providers at least once a week, the CCR Team works to strengthen the existing programs and improve victims’ services. The CCR Team also develops and implements new solutions to address known service gaps, providing greater support for victims and their families.


Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategy (TN-ROCS)

Location: Tennessee

Cities/Counties served: Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties

Website

Program description: The Tennessee Recovery Oriented Compliance Strategy (TN-ROCS) is a court diversion program operating out of Cocke, Grainger, Jefferson, and Sevier Counties, Tennessee that serves justice-involved people who are at a lower risk for recidivism but have high behavioral health service needs from substance use disorder (SUD) and mental illness. The program provides treatment and recovery services for people who may be ineligible to participate in traditional drug recovery courts. Working with a prosecutor, defense attorney, and local treatment providers, TN-ROCS provides participants with substance use and mental health treatment and services. Local organizations and churches help support the program with services and enable TN-ROCS to increase the number of participants who receive assistance.


Texas Dispute Resolution System: Rural Mediation

Location: Texas

Cities/Counties served: Lubbock County and the surrounding rural areas

Website

Program description: The Texas Dispute Resolution System provides alternative dispute resolution services to rural Texans. With mediation experience in criminal, civil, family, juvenile, guardianship, debt and agriculture disputes, the Texas Dispute Resolution System provides in-person and virtual mediation services. Judges, attorneys, law enforcement officers, community stakeholders or other individuals can refer cases for mediation, which may divert disputes from the court to alternative dispute resolution. As an example of the program’s impact, Lubbock County mediates more criminal disputes than any other county in Texas. The program also offers training on mediation for rural counties and their practitioners.


Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse, Inc.

Location: Texas

Cities/Counties served: Foard, Hardeman, and Wilbarger Counties, Texas

Website

Program description: Texoma Alliance to Stop Abuse, Inc. (TASA) is a nonprofit organization that provides batterers' intervention and prevention (BIP) classes and victims' services in Foard, Hardeman, and Wilbarger Counties in rural Texas. TASA's Domestic Violence High-Risk Team (DVHRT) provides various services for domestic violence victims, including transportation, safety planning, free counseling, court accompaniment, connection to a shelter, and financial assistance. TASA works with the District Attorney's Office, county attorneys, sheriffs, police departments, community supervision, probation officers, victims’ advocates, and the local hospital to provide services. Stakeholders meet monthly to discuss cases and coordinate efforts.


The Center for Empowering Victims of Gender-based Violence

Location: Kansas

Cities/Counties served: Ellis and Hays Counties

Website

Program description: The Center for Empowering Victims of Gender-based Violence is a research and collaboration center focused on promoting the connection between social entrepreneurship and economic freedom for domestic violence and human trafficking victims. One of the Center’s goals is to facilitate a social movement using entrepreneurial approaches to give power and freedom to survivors. The Center will examine the cost of gender-based violence victimization in the upcoming two years, including both tangible and intangible costs, through a research project focusing on service providers' perceptions. The Center will also generate a report on innovative approaches to tackling issues in rural communities on the Center's website. The Center will provide consulting services to victim advocates and agencies in rural communities by providing workshops and webinars in the next five years. Ultimately, the Center aims to facilitate a social enterprise alliance where survivors in rural Kansas will have opportunities to access both employment and long-term residential care. The coalition will be a collective force involving research and policy analysis produced by the Center, support from local businesses and community stakeholders and victim advocacy groups.


The Rural Attorney Recruitment Program

Location: South Dakota

Cities/Counties served: Rural communities in South Dakota

Website

Program description: The Rural Attorney Recruitment Program recruits qualified attorneys to practice for five years in rural counties where older attorneys are retiring and there is an absence of individuals to provide legal services. The program connects eligible rural counties and legal employers to attorneys interested in rural practice. Qualified attorneys agree to practice full-time in the county for at least five years and receive incentive payments equal to 90% of the University of South Dakota School of Law’s tuition costs. During those five years, the goal is to ensure the attorney becomes vested in his/her community, increasing the likelihood that the attorney will remain in the rural community after the five years are expired. The stipends provide financial stability as new attorneys establish themselves in the community and address the genuine concern of law school debt. The State Bar, the participating rural county, and the Unified Judicial System split the cost of the incentive payment.