Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program

BCJI in Action


Target Area: Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone • Population: 210,600
Fiscal Agent: Partners for Education at Berea College
Research Partner:  Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy at George Mason University
Crime Concerns: Juvenile delinquency and drug-related crime
BCJI Funding Year: 2015 Planning & Implementation

Neighborhood Profile

The Southeastern Kentucky Promise Zone is a 2,685 square-mile-area comprised of eight contiguous counties with no population centers exceeding 10,000 residents.  Multi-generational poverty is deeply embedded within the community.  The poverty rate is almost double the national average and the per capita income is under $20,000.

A primary concern in the community is the upward trend in youth crime compared to the state as a whole.  Juvenile crime is largely concentrated in Bell County, however evidence suggests that young people in the target area are exposed to more substantial crime problems in schools such as drug use, drug dealing, and vandalism.  Another concern is the prescription drug epidemic.  Pharmaceutical opioids (e.g. OxyContin, Vicodin, and Percocet) are the primary cause of overdose deaths among residents.  All counties in the target area have high rates of overdose deaths, however Bell County in particular is among the highest with approximately 55 opioid-caused deaths per 100,000 residents reported in 2013.  Recently, rural Appalachia has seen a rise in heroin use now that it is increasingly cheaper and easier to obtain than prescription drugs which prompts public fears of a looming heroin epidemic in the target area.

The Berea BCJI target area is part of the Promise Zone in rural Southeastern Kentucky.

Planning Process

The BCJI project is intended to build upon a history of neighborhood revitalization efforts, specifically through the Promise Neighborhood initiative and Promise Zone designation.

BCJI partners are now investigating place-based conditions and risk factors that drive youth crime and developing solutions that engage youth in pro-social activities at the community level. BCJI partners are examining the following strategies as part of that process:


  • Develop a community planning and problem-solving process to identify the location of and risk factors for youth crime in the Promise Zone
  • Identify and implement strategies for positive youth development
  • Evaluate effectiveness of approach
  • Build capacity for sustainable data integration, identification of hot spots, and effective responses

Other Key Partners

Center for Rural Development, Manchester Police Department, and Operation Unite


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