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Pathways to Juvenile Justice Reform: Detention Reform in Rural Areas

NCJ Number
Richard A. Mendel
Date Published
66 pages
This fifteenth paper in the series entitled, "Pathways to Juvenile Detention Reform" explores the special needs of rural communities and the challenges they face in implementing the Annie E. Casey Foundation's Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative. (JDAI), whose purpose is to demonstrate that jurisdictions can establish more effective and efficient systems for replacing juvenile detention.
Juvenile detention reform in rural areas requires special attention because a significant number of youth and a substantial share of America's delinquency problem are located in rural jurisdictions. Rural areas also face different and often more difficult challenges than urban and suburban communities in operating detention programs and in striving to implement detention reform. In addition, rural jurisdictions have identified a number of innovative strategies and promising practices for addressing the challenges of rural detention reform. Also, bringing detention reform only to urban and suburban communities would fuel an unacceptable double standard in the treatment of court-involved youth. The chapters of this report assess the rural detention reform challenge and present a series of promising practices, along with lessons learned about how to meet the challenges of reform in rural detention practices. One chapter outlines five principles underlying the detention reform effort in rural America. A second chapter documents the distinctive characteristics of rural communities and their youth. A third chapter identifies the challenges of rural locations, with attention to the issues that may make rural detention reform more difficult than in urban/suburban areas. A fourth chapter details two particularly promising rural detention reform efforts, followed by a chapter that presents a number of lessons learned from implementing detention reform in rural regions. The concluding chapter focuses on the importance of leadership in starting, designing, implementing, monitoring, and evaluating juvenile detention reform in a rural jurisdiction. 27 footnotes, a listing of peer leaders for rural JDAI jurisdictions, and a listing of other publications in this series