The National Center for State Courts, in partnership with Rulo Strategies, will establish a Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) over the next year. The work will engage judges and their justice, child welfare, and behavioral health partners. Under the RJC, we will establish an online resource center that will serve as a national clearinghouse of resources for rural justice systems. The online resource center will include cases studies highlighting promising practices and initiatives. The work undertaken as part of the RJC will be guided by a cross-sector advisory board comprised of rural judges, justice, and behavioral health partners from different regions of the country and national stakeholder groups.  
There are many different definitions of “rural” that encompass key aspects of rurality, including low population density, geographic isolation, and a way of life that reflects a history, economy, or culture that is fundamentally different from urban communities. The project team will rely on the advisory board to shape the definition of rural for this initiative.
We are using this form to identify communities willing to contribute to our first set of case studies.  The case studies are intended to highlight innovative cross-sector responses that involve courts, other stakeholder in the justice or child welfare community, and their behavioral health partners.  We aim to identify seven communities for our first set of case studies but anticipate completing additional case studies throughout the next year.  
If your rural justice system has been engaged in system change or efforts in any of the following areas, we would love to hear from you!  
  • Increasing access to behavioral health treatment
  • Reducing victimization
  • Facilitating employment and educational opportunities for justice involved individuals
  • Eliminating barriers of access to justice
  • Reducing incarceration and recidivism
  • Facilitating reentry
  • Reducing the number of children in foster care due to substance use disorders
We are also seeking six to eight Judges from across the nation willing to contribute their knowledge of rural justice systems by serving on the advisory board for the RJC. The Board will meet virtually no more than three times per year for two to three years. Work will begin in November 2020.

If you have questions, please contact Kris Bryant at or Tara Kunkel at
Applications are due by October 16, 2020 at 5:00 pm EST.
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