NACo Releases Rural County Pretrial Justice Guide

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI) have released a new guide to assist counties in planning and launching pretrial justice programs in rural communities, home to 51 million Americans.

“The Delivery of Pretrial Justice in Rural Areas: A Guide for Rural County Officials” was released as part of NACo’s Smart Justice Symposium, Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Los Angeles, which explored justice and public safety priorities such as juvenile justice reform, workforce development, pretrial justice, jail population management and related jail healthcare issues. The new report is a follow-up to the 2009 pretrial services guide for county elected officials, which outlined jail population management, the costs of incarceration on county budgets, and how to address these issues through the use of pretrial services programs.

“Counties are increasingly dealing with shrinking budgets, structural inefficiencies and rising jail populations,” said NACo President Chris Rodgers, commissioner, Douglas County, Neb. “These issues create growing challenges for county elected officials to control criminal justice costs while maintaining public safety. Pretrial justice programs have been demonstrated to achieve public safety goals and reduce costs.”

“To establish or enhance pretrial justice in rural areas requires leadership, collaboration, and a series of next steps for county officials,” the guide suggests. “A crucial lesson that emerges from successful rural efforts is the importance of collaboration on multiple levels—multi-county partnerships, state and local governments, and local agencies in rural communities.”

For more information, contact Maeghan Gilmore at or 202.942.42.4261 and Stephanie Vetter at or 503.358.5707.

See the full report online.

Michael Sanderson

Executive Director Maryland Association of Counties