THE VALUE OF JUSTICE: In Liberty, In Lives, In Dollars 

The judicial branch is one of the three cornerstones of our representative democracy. Courts exist to protect our liberties and rights, and to serve justice. The efficient and effective administration of justice is essential to a healthy and vibrant community. Given the important and compelling role this institution plays in determining our quality of life, every individual has a vested interest in ensuring that the fairness and impartiality of our courts remain steadfast and that they possess the basic resources needed to serve the citizenry.

Unfortunately, little time and attention is given within our schools or broader society to learning about the organization, structure, role and responsibility of our court system. The importance of the rule of law, a fair and impartial judiciary, and the efficient administration of justice are not topics of interest for many Americans. People receive most of their information about our legal system from television shows, media opinion, and other sources that lack an objective perspective on the role of our court system. Often, our courts end up defined by those who depict a brand of justice far from reality. This leads to misunderstanding about our court system and unrealistic expectations for what it can achieve. When these misunderstandings and unrealistic expectations are carried into the legislative realm, the independence and support for our courts are put at risk.

Judges and court officials cannot alone confront these challenges. They are busy carrying out the system’s mission and must refrain from lobbying or other political activity on their own behalf. Justice Initiatives was established to provide that missing objective and independent voice for our judicial system. We educate, advocate, support and advance the needs and interests of our courts.

When it comes to financing our courts, government funds are limited, change from year to year, and cover core functions to a limited extent. In a good budget year, there is some money available for additional, innovative programs, which data has demonstrated, produce results. In a bad year, these funds are reduced or eliminated. Professionals in our system tell us that many of our best justice programs which actually affect crime, keep troubled families intact, and save taxpayer dollars in the long run, are hobbled by the perennial question of whether they will receive funding.

Quality justice programs require steady, reliable support to serve all of the people, all of the time. If we desire a better court system, we must advocate and assist in its improvement. That is what Justice Initiatives seeks to do. We advocate to ensure our courts receive governmental funding commensurate with the established need. We also raise outside funds to meet short-term, ad hoc needs of the court to the extent money is available and does not supplant governmental funding.

We operate with concerned volunteers who seek to enlist the assistance of the local community to see that necessary governmental funding is directed to our courts and to support local professionals in the creation of smarter justice programs by providing seed money for innovative programs which improve the administration of justice for all of our citizens.

Our work to educate, advocate, support and advance the interests of the court system is varied and considerable. Our judicial system needs this help more than ever. We hope you will join us in these efforts!