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Detention Reform in Rural Jurisdictions: Challenges and Opportunities

NCJ Number
Richard A. Mendel
Date Published
66 pages
This publication examines the special needs of rural communities as they attempt to develop alternatives to costly and detrimental secure detention of juveniles by implementing the strategies of the Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI), which is a pilot-tested effort to develop cost-effective, community-based alternatives to juvenile detention.
The challenge of juvenile detention reform in rural communities is significant, because a substantial proportion of America's youth live in these communities; delinquency is a significant problem; juvenile justice personnel divide their work time between juvenile justice and other tasks in the criminal justice system; rural communities lack the number and specialization of community-based public health services; and transportation needs are greater. The chapters of this guidebook explore these challenges of juvenile detention reform in rural areas. One chapter explains the five principles that guide detention reform in rural areas. Another chapter documents the unique characteristics of rural communities and their youth, followed by a chapter that explores the challenges of location and identifies particular issues that make rural detention reform more difficult than in urban and suburban communities. A chapter then describes two promising rural detention reform efforts, one in Illinois and the other in Oregon. Both examples illustrate visionary leadership in successfully addressing detention reform challenges. The next chapter presents a number of lessons learned from the effective implementation of detention reform in rural areas. The concluding chapter summarizes key points in the guidebook, with attention to the critical role of leadership in initiating, guiding, and sustaining detention reform efforts. A listing of peer leaders for rural JDAI jurisdictions, 38 notes, and a listing of the 15 publications in the Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform series