The New Jersey Supreme Court announces a new series of initiatives designed to support fairness and equity within New Jersey’s court system.
The announcement comes one year after the Court issued its inaugural Action Plan for Ensuring Equal Justice, which identified nine items aimed at eliminating disparities within the court system and removing institutional obstacles to justice. The Judiciary achieved measurable results for all nine items, including both short-term improvements and long-term reforms.
“Despite the challenges of a global pandemic, the Judiciary worked hard this past year to attempt to lift some of the burdens that fall disproportionately on Black and Latino individuals in our communities,” Chief Justice Stuart Rabner said. “Building on the framework and principles of last year’s Action Plan, the Court has again committed itself to a series of initiatives designed to foster a justice system that is accessible, equitable, and free from structural barriers and bias.”
The nine new reforms outlined in the 2021 Action Plan are designed to improve equity for people of color, as well as for persons affected by mental health conditions, addiction, and the challenges associated with poverty. The new plan includes initiatives that would:
- support employment and job training opportunities for clients and graduates of Judiciary drug court and probation programs.
- improve procedural safeguards for individuals with mental health challenges who come into contact with the justice system.
- expand access to legal representation at all levels of the courts.
- require implicit bias training for all state court employees.
Chief Justice Rabner thanked Judge Glenn A. Grant, acting administrative director of the courts, for his leadership in implementing the reforms outlined in the 2020 Action Plan. Among the immediate, tangible benefits achieved during the past year were a Court order that vacated all outstanding discretionary juvenile fines, the use of technology to enable access to expungements, and the early termination of probation supervision for individuals who achieved critical rehabilitative goals and met other relevant criteria. In other long-term areas, such as reforms to jury selection and improvements to landlord tenant processes, the Judiciary has begun to collect data to evaluate the result of its efforts.