The State Justice Institute (SJI) is a nonprofit corporation that awards grants with the intent of improving the quality of justice in state courts, helping create better coordination between state and federal courts, and discovering fresh solutions to problems experienced by all courts. Authorized to assist appellate, civil, criminal, family, and juvenile state courts, SJI is responsible for then passing along its findings on what’s proven to work well in one state to other state and federal courts across the country.
The State Justice Institute (SJI) was established as a private nonprofit corporation by the State Justice Institute Act of 1984 (pdf), which authorized the Institute to award grants, cooperative agreements, and contracts to state and local courts, nonprofit organizations, and others, for the purpose of improving the quality of justice in America’s State Courts. The Act also states the Institute shall not be considered a department, agency, or instrumentality of the federal government, and that it shall be governed by an 11-member Board of Directors appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, with the President mandated to appoint six state court judges, one state court administrator, and four members of the public, no more than two from the same political party. On September 14, 1986, SJI was incorporated in the state of Virginia. In 2006, Partner Grants were added to the SJI program, to allow federal, state, or local agencies, or foundations, trusts, or other private organizations to combine financial resources with SJI in pursuit of related interests, and, beginning in 2008, Strategic Initiative Grants became part of SJI as a tool to address and develop solutions for issues in national courts, as they occur.
The only source of federal or private funding focused exclusively on improving the quality of justice in the state courts, the State Justice Institute (SJI) awards several specifically targeted grants to qualified applicants.
Grant categories include:
No Project Grant may be higher than $300,000, and grant periods ordinarily may not exceed 36 months. In addition, Project Grant applicants are required to contribute a cash match of at least 50% of the total cost of the proposed project, and may do so directly, or in cooperation with third parties.
The SJI also maintains information clearinghouses, so effective new judicial approaches in one state can be quickly and economically shared with other courts nationwide. In addition, the institute helps establish national resource centers where judges and court staffs can obtain guidance and receive new technologies to test, and then learn from each other by trading what they discover.
The SJI also works to foster effective coordination between the state and federal judiciaries, and convenes national, regional, and in-state educational programs to speed the transfer of solutions to issues among courts across the nation.
From the Web Site of the State Justice Institute
Grant Guidelines (pdf)
The State Justice Institute (SJI) SJI FY 2013 Budget Request (pdf) provides the following outline of proposed expenditures for that year:
Strategic Initiative Grants $1,500,000
Project Grants $909,000
Technical Assistance Grants $908,000
Partner Grants $900,000
General Administration $845,000
Curriculum Adaptation and Training Grants $284,000
Educational Support Program $175,000
Total FY 2013 Budget Request $5,121,000
FY 2013 Budget Request (pdf)
Robert A. Miller was appointed to the State Justice Institute (SJI) Board of Governors in February 1998. The SJI is a non-profit corporation run by the 11 members of its Board of Directors, each of whom is appointed by the President of the United States. Its mission, by law, is to assist state courts through grants and various support programs.