STAR Criminal Justice

Criminal legal systems in small, tribal, and rural (STAR) communities are among the Center's chief areas of research and advocacy. The Center studies STAR justice, offers online STAR resources, hosts interactive STAR webinars, and provides STAR stakeholders with a virtual practice community.

Country Justice in Texas

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.

Greening STAR Legal Deserts

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.

Securing the Right to Counsel in Rural Texas

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.

Report: The Rural Texas Sheriff

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).

Webinar: Understanding McGirt v. Oklahoma: Tribal Sovereignty and Federal Courts

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.

Webinar: Innovations in Rural Prosecution

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.

Webinar: Greening the Desert

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.

Essay: COVID-19 and the Ruralization of U.S. Criminal Legal Systems

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).

One-Pager: Greening the Desert

Greening the Desert brings a criminal justice lens to the phenomenon of STAR legal desertsvast areas with few, if any, practicing attorneys. This one-pager highlights key strategies to green these criminal law deserts. The full Greening the Desert report offers detailed examples and case studies that describe successful implementation of strategies to recruit, train, and retain STAR justice practitioners. An accompanying webinar explores the national landscape and chronicles how two STAR criminal lawyers found their way to rural practice.

Greening the Desert (One-Pager), Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (September 2020).

Resource: STAR Criminal Justice Bibliography

The STAR Criminal Justice Bibliography is a rich resource for STAR practitioners, policymakers, and communities. Updated annually, the bibliography provides a helpful summary of scholarship that addresses STAR criminal legal systems. The bibliography emphasizes research that can be readily translated into actionable reform by STAR lawyers, communities, and justice-impacted individuals. Topics of special interest include public defense innovations, technological adaptations, and juvenile justice and reentry programs that are tailored to the unique characteristics of STAR systems.

STAR Criminal Justice Bibliography, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (September 2020).

Report: Greening the Desert

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.

 

Greening the Desert: Strategies and Innovations to Recruit, Train, and Retain Criminal Law Practitioners for STAR Communities, Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center (September, 2020).