Country Justice applies multiple research methods, including spatial mapping techniques, to Texas' rural criminal legal systems. This study focuses on the challenge of rural criminal law deserts, the implementation of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel, and the efficacy of rural justice innovations.
Small, tribal, and rural (STAR) communities struggle to recruit, train, and retain criminal law practitioners. With its new Rural Summer Externship Program and its Greening the Desert educational programs, the Deason Center is promoting innovative strategies to guarantee that STAR residents have access to criminal legal services.
Does establishing rural public defender offices increase access to appointed counsel? By applying a synthetic control analysis to 15 years of Texas data, Center researchers will answer this important question. Funded by the Texas Bar Foundation, this study will provide actionable recommendations for reform.
In McGirt v. Oklahoma, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the boundaries of the Muscogee Creek Nation and resolved jurisdictional questions about crimes committed in Indian Country. An expert panel discusses this historic decision and explores its implications for tribal sovereignty, federal courts, and the right to counsel.
Across the country, in all types of jurisdictions, prosecutors are adding their voices to the call for criminal justice reform. Offered as part of the STAR Justice series, this panel features prosecutors from STAR areas discussing their problem-solving initiatives and procedural justice innovations.
The Rural Texas Sheriff reports on a focus group conducted in conjunction with the Center's 2019 Rural Criminal Justice Summit. The report places rural Texas sheriffs and their agencies in a national context. It also offers insight into the focus group's perceptions of rural law enforcement and jail management. With first-hand accounts of these sheriffs’ experiences, the report offers a compelling look at the personal and professional lives of Texas’ rural sheriffs.
The Rural Texas Sheriff, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (April 2021).
This webinar explores strategies and initiatives to recruit, train, and retain STAR criminal justice practitioners. Lawyers describe their own journeys to STAR criminal practice and join researchers in a discussion of best practices for greening STAR legal deserts.
The COVID-19 pandemic is imposing typically rural practice constraints on the United States’ urban and suburban criminal court systems. This “ruralization” of criminal practice offers a window into the challenges and opportunities that inhere in rural systems. But for decades, lawmakers, researchers, reformers, and philanthropists have overlooked, undertheorized, and underfunded rural criminal legal systems—and have done so at great peril. Rural systems have decades of experience navigating (geographically) distanced criminal practice. By ignoring these rural practice adaptations, we have missed critical opportunities to learn about successful adaptations to distance-constrained criminal practice.
Pamela R. Metzger and Greg Guggenmos, COVID-19 and the Ruralization of U.S. Criminal Legal Systems, U. Chi. L. Rev. Online (Nov. 2020).
Greening the Desert (One-Pager), Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (September 2020).
Greening the Desert brings a criminal justice lens to the phenomenon of legal deserts in STAR communities—vast areas with few, if any, practicing attorneys. The report explores STAR criminal justice communities and describes strategies and initiatives to green these criminal law deserts. Using case studies, the report offers concrete examples of successful innovations. It also includes cautionary notes about risks that may arise with the implementation of strategies to recruit, train, and retain STAR practitioners. A companion webinar explores the national landscape and chronicles how two STAR criminal lawyers found their way to rural practice.
Metzger, P., Meeks, K., & Pishko, J., Greening the Desert: Strategies and Innovations to Recruit, Train, and Retain Criminal Law Practitioners for STAR Communities, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (Sept. 2020).