Date of this Version
Last fall, Congress seriously undermined efforts to strengthen and improve state court systems. The appropriations bill for FY 2002 funded the State Justice Institute (SJI) at $3 million and called for its demise by September 30, 2003. SJI is the only federal institution dedicated to improving the state court systems. It does this primarily by funding national-scope court projects and the awarding of educational scholarships to court personnel. A national effort led by the Conference of Chief Justices (CCJ) and the Conference of State Court Administrators (COSCA) is under way in the court community to reverse this decision and gain full funding for FY 2003. While SJI has faced difficulties in funding before, this was the first time that its elimination has been legislated. The $3 million for SJI is just enough to cover the costs of phasing out the institution as of September 30.