NORC and ABF Receive $2M Award from Bureau of Justice Statistics for Access to Justice Design and Testing Program
CHICAGO, January 16, 2024—NORC at the University of Chicago and the American Bar Foundation (ABF) Access to Justice Research Initiative have been selected by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) through a competitive process to review, develop, and test a new civil legal needs survey and other data collection related to access to justice for civil legal needs.
Led by co-principal investigators Jeanette Hussemann (NORC), John Roman (NORC), and Rebecca Sandefur (ABF), the $2M award will be distributed over three years. Investigators on the research team include Matthew Burnett (ABF), Genevieve Ray (NORC), and James Teufel (ABF).
“This project presents an extraordinary opportunity to advance national data collection on the intersection between the criminal and civil justice system as well as the civil legal needs and experiences for people across the U.S.”
This survey will be the first national civil legal needs survey hosted at the BJS, which supports many important national justice data collections, including the National Crime Victimization Survey. The civil legal needs survey will explore Americans’ civil justice experiences and the intersection of criminal and civil justice in their lives through a nationally representative survey of Americans and their justice experiences. The project aims to transform justice research and practice by providing new data to inform research and policy.
The U.S. faces a critical need for credible, national data on the linkages between civil and criminal justice. This includes the need for information about people’s experiences as well as data from formal legal systems and service providers. NORC and the ABF Access to Justice Research Initiative, in partnership with BJS and a panel of subject matter experts, will work together on the Access to Justice Design and Testing Program to identify and fill gaps in data collection about access to civil justice and increase understanding of the intersections between the criminal and civil justice systems.
Co-principal investigator Rebecca Sandefur, who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2018 for her work advancing an evidence-based approach to increasing access to justice for low-income communities, highlighted the impact of the award:
“This is a game-changing moment for justice in the United States. With this new project, the country is poised to make critical discoveries about problems that hundreds of millions of Americans experience each year, affecting their ability to have a place to live, make a living, care for those who depend on them, and participate in our democracy. This new knowledge can help us make a better country, where people can thrive, living safe and healthy lives and participating in vital communities.”
“This project presents an extraordinary opportunity to advance national data collection on the intersection between the criminal and civil justice system as well as the civil legal needs and experiences for people across the U.S.,” said Jeanette Hussemann, principal research scientist with the Economics, Justice & Society department at NORC. “Our work will build a foundation for future research efforts and, in doing so, empower communities and policymakers to make informed decisions about the needs of citizens, legal providers, and justice systems.”
About NORC at the University of Chicago
NORC at the University of Chicago conducts research and analysis that decision-makers trust. As a nonpartisan research organization and a pioneer in measuring and understanding the world, we have studied almost every aspect of the human experience and every major news event for more than eight decades. Today, we partner with government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world to provide the objectivity and expertise necessary to inform the critical decisions facing society.
Contact: For more information, please contact Eric Young at NORC at email@example.com or (703) 217-6814 (cell).
About the ABF Access to Justice Research Initiative
The American Bar Foundation (ABF) Access to Justice Research Initiative is a dynamic hub for innovative empirical research and programs that bridge the divide between access to justice scholarship and practice in the United States and around the world. It produces and supports original research and scholarship that informs our basic understanding of law and legal processes and serves as a resource for civil justice researchers, policy makers, and practitioners as they seek to respond to the legal needs of the public today.