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Community Justice in Rural America: Four Examples and Four Futures

NCJ Number
Walter J. Dickey; Peggy McGarry
Date Published
February 2001
25 pages
Publication Series
This monograph describes how community justice grows in response to the unique needs it serves.
The monograph describes four communities as examples of small towns, rural areas, and Indian reservations in which community justice is flourishing: Boise County, ID; Jefferson County, OR; Monroe County, WI; and Burlington, VT, emphasizing, for illustrative purposes, the experiences of Boise County, ID. There were three distinct phases to community justice developments in the four communities studied: an effort to create more nuanced sentencing dispositions; addressing underlying social problems; and community problem solving. Community justice efforts were affected by several tensions. First, many participants in the criminal justice system were stuck in their roles as law enforcers, prosecutors, defense lawyers, and judges, and were not necessarily problem solvers. There was also tension regarding the definition of community, how to spur communities to act, and the tendency of communities to reach for solutions readily at hand. The monograph concludes that community justice thrives when communities: (1) create opportunities and rewards; (2) honor differences while reinforcing shared values; (3) make use of private resources; (4) use the power of position; and (5) support community justice. Resources

Date Published: February 1, 2001