New study reveals full extent of America’s access to justice crisis


IAALS and HiiL report highlights breadth and depth of the American access to justice issue, including racial, ethnic and socio-economic disadvantage, enabling targeted civil justice reform in a research-oriented way, at a time in our history when it is most needed.

Denver, CO, Aug.24, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System and the Hi (The Hague Institute for Legal Innovation) conducted the first national survey of its size to measure how Americans from a wide range of socio-demographic groups experience and solve their legal problems. The United States Justice Needs A survey, funded by the Bohemian Foundation, reached 10,000 Americans, asking them about the legal issues they’ve encountered over the past four years, what they’ve done to address those issues, and ultimately whether they thought they had succeeded in finding a fair solution. The full report with the survey results will be released on September 1, with two live webinars showcasing the data, reporting on the results and suggesting solutions.

“The results of this survey,” says Dr. Martin Gramatikov, director of justice measurement at HiiL, “indicate what our research has historically shown: often the more developed a nation, the more people need justice and the greater the challenge of access to justice for all. While it is widely accepted that there is a problem with access to justice in the United States, the extent of the justice crisis has been less clear so far. With the results of this survey and the IAALS focus on evidence-based reform, we can begin to truly understand the scale of the problem and work on the changes needed to close this justice gap.

The survey results give a clear picture of the landscape of legal problems in the United States. Access to justice is a broad societal problem: 66% of the population has experienced at least one legal problem in the past four years, with only 49% of these problems having been completely resolved. There is no income group, gender, race or ethnicity, age group or geographic area that does not face a substantial number of legal problems. On an annual basis, this translates to 55 million Americans facing 260 million legal problems. A considerable proportion of these problems – 120 million – go unresolved or are concluded in a way that is perceived as unfair. This study shows that the challenges of access to justice are significant and pervasive.

“This is a crisis that demands increased advocacy and funding for policies and services that improve access to justice across broad segments of society,” said Brittany Kauffman, senior director of the IAALS. “Previous research either focused heavily on low-income people or had limited geographic reach. While this study confirms that low-income people are a particularly vulnerable population, it also reflects that the access to justice crisis is not limited to this group. We interviewed people in all parts of the United States, including urban and rural areas. Understanding the scale and scope of the problem helps us create evidence-based solutions and sound the alarm bells that we need to take urgent action.

The data reveals what types of justice problems people face in the United States and how and to what extent these problems vary by socio-demographic characteristics. It provides an overview of the most serious issues, as well as the extent to which these issues are resolved. The report also focuses on two types of problems in particular: 1) work and unemployment and 2) money-related problems, both of which are particularly serious and impactful for Americans.

“Problems related to money, work and unemployment have a disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups in society,” says Logan Cornett, director of research at IAALS, “and we anticipate that these problems will become even more so. currents and impact in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. . The data also highlights critical issues of inequity in the United States justice system. While access to justice is a vast societal problem, the effects of the justice crisis are not evenly distributed. Looking at the justice crisis through the prism of different socio-demographic groups reflects different constellations of problems, different experiences and different outcomes.

The report examines the rates at which people have legal problems, the relative severity of those problems, and the rates at which they have been able to resolve their legal problems completely. The following groups stand out as the most vulnerable: low-income people, women, multiracial and black Americans, young and middle-aged people, and those living in urban and rural settings.

“The nature, severity and rates of resolution of legal problems faced by Americans are affected by their income, gender, race and ethnicity, age and background,” said Jim Sandman, president emeritus of Legal Services Corporation and a member of US Justice. Needs Advisory Committee. “The result is that certain socio-demographic groups are particularly disadvantaged in accessing justice. We hope that the data will provide a better understanding of this inequity to guide reform efforts and ensure that everyone’s needs are met in a fair and equitable manner. “

The conclusions and implications outlined in the report are based on the need to improve access to justice, and access to fair resolutions in particular, for Americans – and are intended to support policymakers and providers. justice services in their efforts to increase the number of problems that are avoided or resolved in a fair and effective manner.

“The justice sector lags behind others, for example education, economy, health, both in terms of availability and use of data. Policy makers and service providers currently have to make decisions about how to spend limited resources, guided only by very limited information about how people need, perceive and access justice, ”says Rebecca Sandefur, professor in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. and member of the United States Legal Needs Advisory Committee. “Data is essential to assess what is working. Longitudinal data, in particular, is essential for understanding the impact of justice delivery models and interventions. Without data, justice cannot work for people. The United States Justice Needs report is an essential part of bridging the justice resolution gap in the United States. “

IAALS and Hiil will release the co-published final report on September 1, 2021. A webinar on release day will be followed by a second webinar on September 15, 2021. Both are live, free, and open to the public. See details and registration information below. Online interactive dashboards that will allow for greater transparency and data depth will be available at a later date.

The study of the needs of justice in the United States: 10,000 votes, Wednesday, September 1, 9 a.m. MDT: In this launch webinar, IAALS and HiiL will share the report, present key data points, and discuss the implications of this research – for justice system actors, policymakers and beyond. of the .

The US Justice Needs Study: Policy Implications for Access to Justice, Wednesday, September 15, 11 a.m. MDT: Following the launch of the United States Justice Needs report on the needs and satisfaction of justice in the United States, this webinar will bring together experts from all key justice institutions and perspectives to discuss the findings of the report and the critical policy implications for access to justice in the United States. United.


CONTACT: Kelsey Montague IAALS, the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System 1-303-888-0393 [email protected]

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