Older African American Women and Barriers to Reporting Domestic Violence to Law Enforcement in the Rural Deep South

The main reasons for not going to law enforcement when experiencing abuse was fear of being stigmatized by their church, family, and community. The researchers reviewed data from the National Incident-Based Reporting System and conducted fieldwork in four rural counties in the Black Belt of Alabama. They find that when women feel more independent, which can be furthered by legal services such as assisting with benefits and outreach, they were more likely to come forward to seek out law enforcement.

California’s Attorney Deserts: Access to Justice Implications of the Rural Lawyer Shortage

In this study, the California Commission on Access to Justice reports on attorney deserts — places where there are too few attorneys and high numbers of unmet legal needs. They find that attorney deserts are an acute problem in rural areas. This is not a problem concentrated in California — in the US, approximately 2 percent of small law practices are in rural places, serving approximately 20 percent of the US population.

Improving Civil Justice in Rural America

The California Commission on Access to Justice analyzes the quality and access to civil justice in rural California, discussing the legal needs, the profile of rural legal assistance, how the courts, self-help centers, and other community organizations can be involved, and how the legal aid community can engage with pro bono. Among other findings, the study finds that housing, labor violations, domestic violence, access to health care and services, legal problems facing the elderly and persons with disabilities, language assistance, and tribal-related issues were the top legal needs of rural Californians.