Florida Justice Institute is a nonprofit public interest law firm using impact litigation and advocacy to improve the lives of Florida’s poor and disenfranchised residents, while focusing on criminal justice reform, homelessness & poverty, disability access, and other civil rights issues. For 45 years we have worked collaboratively with law firms, individuals, and social justice organizations to identify major, unmet needs in the community and address them with advocacy and litigation by bringing targeted and systemic civil rights litigation to achieve widespread and lasting change for Florida's poor and disenfranchised residents. Over the years, we have had collaborated with:
· American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
· Florida Legal Services
· HOPE Fair Housing Center
· Morgan & Morgan
· Southern Poverty Law Center
Working with disenfranchised communities, such as incarcerated people and homeless people, we learn about their needs. We investigate through partnerships with advocacy groups and directly impacted people, public records requests and speaking to community members. We use strategic, creative, targeted, client-centered litigation to end systems of oppression and improve living conditions of these individuals. We aggressively monitor settlements and consent decrees to ensure court-ordered reforms are implemented properly. The success of our work is reflected in each court victory or settlement that results in real change for thousands of impacted individuals. Through monitoring we stay connected to those communities and receive feedback to ensure reforms are happening and that they reflect the needs of the affected individuals.
We bring cases encouraging the reform of Florida's inequitable criminal justice policies, including cases to improve prison conditions in areas such as medical and mental health care, abuse, violence, disability accommodations, free speech, dangerous understaffing, overcrowding, and solitary confinement.
FJI also brings cases challenging laws that criminalize poverty and target homeless people and laws requiring cash bail, seeking to encourage the funding of affordable housing and appropriate treatment. We also bring cases for victims of housing discrimination. We bring cases seeking to require governments and business to maintain accessible facilities, to ensure people with disabilities get the accommodations they need to live with dignity and respect.
We believe that to bring about systemic changes to these issues, advocacy is a major component in the process. While continuing to pursue avenues of litigation, FJI will also be working on ways to educate others and change legislation that will improve conditions associated with mass incarceration, decriminalize homelessness and ensure the rights of all persons with disabilities.
Our efforts have achieved many accomplishments:
Our team is led by several brilliant attorneys, each with years of experience in litigating systemic civil rights cases, criminal defense litigation, and confinement conditions for incarcerated clients and several have taught law school courses relating to these and other similar subjects.
Incarcerated people often have no voice in our society. They are locked behind walls and away from community oversight. We give a voice to this vulnerable population that has been subjected to abuse, neglect, and violence for so long, and remind everyone that even people in prison and jail deserve safe, humane, living conditions and appropriate medical and mental health care. Similarly, people experiencing homelessness are often vilified for personal moral failings, when in reality economic inequality has resulted in people not being to afford a place to live. Criminal justice policies that make life even more difficult and force them to experience the trauma of arrest and incarceration, are cruel and counterproductive. We work to end this needless criminalization and encourage investment in real solutions, such as affordable housing and appropriate mental health treatment.