The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) is placing 67 fellows in rural communities across the country to help combat the substance overdose epidemic that has hit rural communities particularly hard. The fellows selected for the Reaching Rural: Advancing Collaborative Solutions initiative reflect diverse disciplines and unique experiences, including law enforcement, public health, prosecutors, defense attorneys, probation, judges, behavioral health, elected county leadership, recovery support organizations, and other community-based providers.
"Illicit substances—particularly powerful synthetic opioids like fentanyl—continue to claim lives at alarming rates. The impact of the opioid crisis has been particularly intense in smaller, more isolated communities where treatment options tend to be scarce," said BJA Director Karhlton F. Moore. "Through the Reaching Rural Initiative, we are working to support rural public safety and public health practitioners to build deeper partnerships and develop collaborative, innovative solutions to address the needs and challenges in their communities."
Throughout the year-long initiative, the fellows will meet monthly, virtually and in-person, to examine their local and regional challenges and identify opportunities to serve justice-involved individuals with substance use or co-occurring disorders more effectively. The fellows were selected through a competitive application process and will participate in the Reaching Rural Initiative through one of two tracks, either as part of a cross-sector team from their community or as individuals. The Initiative is part of an ongoing interagency partnership to strengthen public safety and public health collaboration under BJA's Comprehensive Opioid, Stimulant, and Substance Abuse Program.
The initiative is co-sponsored by BJA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State Justice Institute.
Read the Office of Justice Programs' press release to learn more about this initiative and the selected fellows.