Category Archives: Courts

State Court Caseload Statistics

Source: National Center for State Courts, Court Statistics Project, 2011

The analysis presented in Examining the Work of State Courts is derived in part from the data found in State Court Caseload Statistics. State Court Caseload Statistics is published exclusively online. This web-based format allows users to take advantage of improved functionality and makes possible electronic access to the data.

The information and tables found in State Court Caseload Statistics are intended to serve as a detailed reference on the work of the nation’s state courts.

Justice Expenditures and Employment, FY 1982-2007 – Statistical Tables

Source: Tracey Kyckelhahn, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, NCJ 236218, December 2011

In 2007, federal, state, and local governments spent $228 billion and employed 2.5 million persons for police protection, corrections, and judicial
and legal services. Local police protection represented the largest share of both total justice expenditures (32%) and employment (36%), followed by state corrections (19% of expenditures and employment).

The findings in this report are based on the Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts (JEE) series, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Government Finance Survey and Annual Survey of Public Employment. The data include yearly information on federal, state, and local government expenditures and employment for three justice functions: corrections, police protection, and judicial and legal services (for definition of terms, see page 9). Expenditure data are presented in real terms (see Methodology for more details). Extract tables from this series are accessible on the BJS website.

Mandatory Minimum Penalties in the Federal Criminal Justice System

Source: United States Sentencing Commission, October 2011

From the press release:
Today the United States Sentencing Commission submitted to Congress
its 645-page report assessing the impact of statutory mandatory minimum penalties on federal sentencing….In the report, the Commission recommends with respect to drug offenses that Congress reassess certain statutory recidivist provisions, and consider possible tailoring of the “safety valve” relief mechanism to other low-level, non-violent offenders convicted of other offenses carrying mandatory minimum penalties….The Commission also addresses the overcrowding in the federal Bureau of Prisons, which is over-capacity by 37 percent.
See also:
U.S. study urges sentencing reform
Source: UPI, October 31, 2011
States Redefine Felonies to Cut Costs
Source: Whitney Wetzel,, 02 November 2011
State budget cuts clog criminal justice system
Source: Greg Bluestein, Associated Press, October 26, 2011

State activities map / Budget shortfalls by state

Source: National Center for State Courts, 2011

Click on the any of the states to view financial actions already under way.

Alternatively, check our map to see which states have implemented specific cost-saving measures. Or, view our one-page listing (pdf) of those measures and which states have adopted them. We also have a map depicting the percentage change in 2011 judicial budgets compared to 2010 budgets. Last, download the budget narratives for all 50 states.
See also:
Courts face budget cuts
Source: Gail Short, American City and County, August 1, 2011

States Differ Greatly on Access to Civil Legal Aid, Study Shows

Source: Rabiah Alicia Burks, American Bar Association News Service, August 8, 2011

Access to civil legal aid in the United States for low-income populations is largely contingent on the state where they reside, said a new report, unveiled Friday, by the American Bar Foundation. Although states have been tremendously creative in the way they deliver civil legal aid, they differ dramatically in the types of resources that they provide, the populations they are able to serve, and the amount of funding that is available, said Rebecca L. Sandefur, senior ABF researcher, who detailed the new report to an audience at “Access Across America: First Report of The Civil Justice Infrastructure Mapping Project,” a program of the American Bar Association Annual Meeting in Toronto.

Crisis In The Courts: Defining The Problem

Source: American Bar Association, Task Force On Preservation Of The Justice System, HOD Resolution 302, 2011

The courts of our country are in crisis. The failure of state and local legislatures to provide adequate funding is effectively — at times quite literally — closing the doors of our justice system. At the same time, Congress has reduced its support for both the federal courts and other programs that directly and indirectly support our justice system at the state, county and municipal levels.

As a result, over the last few years, the courts of virtually every state have been forced into debilitating combinations of hiring freezes, pay cuts, judicial furloughs, staff layoffs, early retirements, increased filing fees, and outright closures. These reductions in court staff and related resources come at the very time when the demand for the judicial resolution of economic claims has increased dramatically. Our courts, already short-staffed, have thus been forced to lay off judges, clerks and other personnel just as they are being inundated with hundreds of thousands of new foreclosures, personal and small business bankruptcies, credit card and other collection matters, domestic fractures, and the many other lawsuits resulting from the Recession. The courts must then deal with these increased caseloads, often facing the additional problems created when litigants proceed pro se, which occurs all the more frequently in hard economic times.