The National Center for Access to Justice is the academically affiliated national organization that relies on data to accomplish policy reforms that help people obtain justice in the courts.
We count on our system of justice to halt domestic violence, stop unlawful evictions and foreclosures, preserve the unity of families, secure wages that are owed, and in some circumstances to halt and reverse unfair criminal proceedings. But, too often, people cannot get into court, be understood in court, obtain the legal help they need, and secure a just result. In civil cases, 80% of the legal needs of the poor are unmet. In criminal cases, people are entitled to receive free counsel if they cannot afford a lawyer, but only the poorest obtain it, often it is late, and in many communities its quality is impaired.
Justice is among our society’s most profound values. What is access to justice? It means that people can learn of their rights and then give voice to them through a neutral and nondiscriminatory process that determines the facts, applies the fair rule of law, and enforces the result. In its essence it is the real and meaningful right to be heard.
NCAJ is relying on data to make the United States justice system more accessible and fair. In its flagship project, the Justice Index, www.justiceindex.org, NCAJ uses the latest data analytics and data visualization strategies to create incentives for establishing best policies for access to justice in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In other projects, NCAJ is doing research on new models of legal assistance, including those involving “non-lawyers”, and is also working to strengthen language assistance and disability assistance in our state justice systems.