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Delivery of Pretrial Justice in Rural Areas: A Guide for Rural County Officials

NCJ Number
Stephanie J. Vetter; John Clark
Date Published
January 2013
23 pages
This guide presents recommendations for elected county officials interested in developing new or improving existing pretrial justice practices in rural areas.
The guide's section entitled, "Applying the Elements of Pretrial Justice in Rural Counties," discusses the functions performed by pretrial justice programs, how rural jurisdictions have been attempting to implement these functions, and policy issues in pretrial justice. The latter include the availability of detention for defendants who pose significant risks, the availability of citation release for those who pose minimal risks, early screening of cases by prosecutors, and the early involvement of defense counsel. For each function and policy of pretrial justice in rural areas, examples are provided from the field. The information on rural pretrial justice practices was obtained through surveys of rural jurisdictions accompanied by follow-up telephone interviews. The guide's other major section, "Recommendations for Elected County Officials," presents six recommendations that pertain to the development of a new or improvement of an existing pretrial justice system in a rural county. First, develop coordinated, system-wide approaches for pretrial justice planning, implementation, and monitoring. Second, review local ordinances and State statutes that pertain to pretrial-release decisionmaking for their compatibility with the pretrial standards outlined by the American Bar Association (ABA). Third, adopt regional approaches to providing defense representation. Fourth, educate constituents on pretrial justice through local, regional, and State symposiums. Fifth, collect and analyze program and public safety data. Sixth, ensure that the ABA standards for pretrial justice programming are in place by advocating for changes within the system at the policy level. Appended ABA Pretrial Release Standards, profiles of two pretrial risk assessment instruments that have been validated in multiple jurisdictions, a list of performance and outcome measures for pretrial justice programs, results of the rural pretrial survey, and a listing of additional resources