STAR Criminal Justice

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: The Right to Counsel in Rural America

This conversation examined the challenges of providing indigent defense services in rural areas of the United States where lawyers are scarce and long distances separate courts, law offices, and jails. Deason Center researchers Dr. Andrew Davies and Dr. Victoria Smiegocki discussed their research on the topic with criminal defense attorneys working in rural areas.

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).

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.

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.

 

 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).

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).

Op-Ed: Rural Justice Systems Low on Pretrial Resources Leave Some to Languish, Die

Trequelle Vann-Marcouex was just 18 years old when he hanged himself, after being trapped in the Wood County, Wisconsin jail, with no attorney to defend him.

Just days earlier, Vann-Marcouex appeared in court for the first time after his arrest. A teenager standing alone in his baggy jumpsuit, Vann-Marcouex asked the judge for help. He faced robbery charges and more than 60 years in prison.

He thought he would get a public defender and a shot at the equal justice he’d heard about in high school civics class…

Pamela R. Metzger, Rural Justice Systems Low on Pretrial Resources Leave Some to Languish, Die, USA Today, Dec. 13, 2019. 

Op-Ed: Why Rural Americans Struggle for Equal Justice

Drive from Amarillo, one of the biggest cities in West Texas, to Armstrong County, Texas, and you will enter a different world. Armstrong County, with fewer than than 2,000 people, is largely agricultural and, like many rural counties, substantially poorer than its urban neighbor, with a small local budget to match.

And, a report from the Sixth Amendment Center issued this month points out that the very sparseness of Armstrong County means that people arrested for crimes tend to have a very different experience with the criminal justice system than their urban Amarillo neighbors

Pamela R. Metzger, Why Rural Americans Struggle for Equal Justice, Dallas Morning News, Nov. 24, 2019.