COVID-19 and the Ruralization of U.S. Criminal Court Systems
2020 University of Chicago Law Review Online 70 (2020)
9 Pages Posted: 10 Sep 2021
Date Written: 2020
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 lawyers, policymakers, and researchers a window into the challenges and opportunities that inhere in rural systems. This is no small matter. For decades, lawmakers, researchers, reformers, and philanthropists have overlooked, undertheorized, and underfunded rural criminal legal systems-and have done so at great peril. Nearly 20 percent of the nation's population lives in nonmetropolitan areas, where the opioid addiction crisis rages. Rural incarceration increasingly drives mass incarceration. The U.S. countryside warehouses the nation's prison populations, and rural pretrial detention rates continue to rise. Indeed, the success of criminal justice reforms depends in part on our ability to address the incarceration crisis in rural America.
The authors discuss the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural criminal courts highlighting their research at the Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center on small, tribal, and rural (STAR) criminal legal systems.
Keywords: COVID-19, criminal law, criminal justice system, criminal courts, rural communities, criminal justice reform, legal practice and procedure
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