Access to Justice
Everyone—rich or poor, male or female, of whatever race or ethnicity—should be able to participate in justice system processes that are fair and timely. Many of JMI’s projects help to move justice systems toward greater accessibility for all.
Here are some examples:
- In 1998, JMI—working with three other national organizations—developed a National Agenda for Prompt and Affordable Justice that provides a set of strategies for enabling justice systems to provide fair, timely and affordable dispute resolution in courts of all types and at all levels.
- JMI has worked with other organizations in helping to develop pro se assistance programs—i.e., programs at the state or local level that enable self-represented litigants to participate meaningfully in litigation that directly affects their lives. The work has included a major workshop for jurisdictional teams and, as part of the series of seminars for court managers in urban and rural courts, periodic presentations on technological advances that enable individuals to learn about court processes, complete essential forms, and represent themselves in court proceedings.
- JMI has been actively involved in work on reform of antiquated and unfair bail laws that have the practical effect of discriminating between the poor and the affluent with regard to release from jail during the pretrial process for individuals who pose no significant risk to the safety of individuals or communities. The work has included drafting of a National Institute of Justice publication entitled Pretrial Services Programs: Responsibilities and Potential.
- In 2006, JMI organized a workshop for teams from ten states on Ensuring a Reliable and Effective Criminal Justice System. The workshop, designed to address systemic problems that have led to the wrongful conviction of factually innocent persons, has contributed to significant improvement in justice systems in the participating states. Key issues on which action has been taken in the participating states include upgrading systems for indigent defense representation, developing new procedures for identification of suspects by eyewitnesses, and improvements in forensic testing.
- All of JMI’s work on issues of caseflow management seeks to improve the fairness, timeliness, efficiency, and effectiveness of court and system operations. As justice systems improve their operations, one result should be greater accessibility for all.