Justice is the process of administering punishments for illegal behavior. This section focuses on the components of the legal system, the bill of rights, and the judicial process in New Jersey

National Rankings provide data on how New Jersey compares to other states on measures of Justice.

State and Local Reports provide featured analysis of current Justice data within New Jersey and its impact on life in the State.


National Rankings compared to other states, New Jersey ranks...

• 1st in Anti-Corruption Ethics Laws

With an overall grade of B+, New Jersey ranked first in the State Integrity Organization’s 2012 Corruption Risk Report Card. With A grades in areas such as procurement, internal auditing, and ethics enforcement agencies, New Jersey has been recognized for passing some of the strictest ethics laws in the country. Georgia was ranked last, with a grade of F in 9 of 14 categories evaluated. 

• 25th in Number of Parolees

December, 2013.  The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reports New Jersey had just under 15,000 adult parolees in 2012.  That is 1.7 parolees per 1,000 members of the population.  This ranked in the middle of the states.  Pennsylvania and Arkansas topped the list, with 7.9 parolees per 1,000 members of the population.  The adjustment for population size was performed by NJ Databank staff using 2012 population estimates from the U.S. Census. 

• Lowest Rate of Forcible Rape Among All States

December, 2013.  According to the Uniform Crime Reports  of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, New Jersey had 11.7 reported forcible rapes per 1,000 members of the population in 2012.  This is lowest rate among all states, and less than half the rate for the United States overall (26.9).  Alaska had the highest rate with 79.7 reported forcible rapes per 1,000 members of the population.

• 32nd in Fairness of Litigation Environment

New Jersey tort liability systems are perceived by U.S. business as the 32nd most reasonable and balanced by the general counsels of companies with revenues of $100 million. Delaware was perceived to be the most fair according to a 2012 report by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform.

With 48 low-income occupations requiring a license, New Jersey has the 15th largest number required according to a 2012 study by the Institute for Justice. Out of 102 common low-income occupations, 47 percent require a license in New Jersey.

• Poorly on Free Speech in the State’s Universities

Of the 9 universities in New Jersey that were evaluated, 6 received a red code for restricting freedom of speech according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s 2013 report.  The best states for free speech in higher education with at least 5 schools ranked were Nebraska and South Dakota where 0 percent of the schools surveyed received a red light. The worst were Illinois and Wisconsin where 100 percent of the schools surveyed received a red light.

• 6th in the Concentration of Lawyers

New Jersey has the 6th highest concentration of lawyers with 4.86 employment per thousand jobs in 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New York had the highest with 7.87 followed by Florida. Washington DC was the city with the highest concentration with 47.2 employment per thousand jobs.

• 12th in the Annual Mean Wage for Lawyers

With an annual mean wage of $128,860, New Jersey has the 12th highest wage for lawyers in 2012 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. California had the highest mean wage with $153,480. North Dakota had the lowest mean wage with $ 87,530. Washington DC was the city with the highest with $165,590.

• 5th in the Number of Hate Groups

There are 51 active hate groups in New Jersey in 2012, the 5th highest number in any state according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. California had the most with 82, and there were 1,007 across the county. Hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

• 22nd in the Number of Equal Employment Opportunity Charges

With 1,797 charges received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2012, New Jersey ranked 22nd accounting for 1.8 percent of all charges in the US. Texas had the most charges, with 8,929, accounting for 9.0 percent of all charges. 

• 6th in the Number of Malpractice Claims

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there were 429 malpractice claims paid in New Jersey in 2011 totaling over $164 million. The average New Jersey claim was $383,437, slightly higher than the U.S. average of $334,559. New York had the most number of paid claims with 1,379, and Wyoming had the least with 11.

• 8th in the Number of Lawyers

New Jersey reported 40,754 “resident and active” attorneys as of Dec. 31, 2010, the eighth largest number in the U.S. and a 1 percent increase from the year before according to the American Bar Association’s 2011 National Lawyer Population Survey. Overall, the national lawyer population still is on the rise.

• 16th in the Number of Incoming State Appellate Cases per Capita

With 87 incoming state appellate cases per 100,000 population in 2010, New Jersey ties with Colorado and ranks 16th according to the Court Statistics Project, up from 38th in 2009.  Louisiana had the highest with 234 and North Carolina had the lowest with 31.

• 10th in Corruption Convictions

With 4.9 convictions per 100,000 residents from 2001 to 2010, New Jersey had the 10th most convictions per capita of all U.S. states according to statistics utilized from the Department of Justice.


State and Local Reports 

Trial and Error: A Comprehensive Study of Prosecutorial Conduct in New Jersey

A 2012 report by Alexander Shalom of the ACLU-NJ and George C. Thomas III from Rutgers School of Law-Newark  found that prosecutors who commit multiple errors are the exception rather than the rule. However, the study also found that those outliers can be held accountable only with better systems of training, supervision and discipline.

The data showed surprising disparities among counties. In some lower-volume counties, the proportion of errors found greatly exceeded the same county’s share of convictions. Warren County, for example, accounted for 1.4 percent of the statewide convictions but contributed 5.7 percent of the findings of harmful error. In other, higher-volume counties, the rate of errors and reversals accounted for less than their expected share in comparison to the county’s convictions. For example, Camden County had 6.2 percent of New Jersey’s convictions, but contributed no reversals and only 3.1 percent of the findings of error.

Read the full report


Additional Reports

Paul Tractenberg, ed., New Jersey Goes A-Courting: 10 Legal Cases That Shook the Nation, Rutgers University Press, 2012.

Ronald Chen, "Gallenthin v. Kaur: A Comparative Analysis of How the New Jersey and New York Courts Approach Judicial Review of the Exercise of Eminent Domain for Redevelopment” in the Fordham Urban Legal Journal, 2011.

Delores Jones-Brown and Jon M. Shane, An Exploratory Study of the Use of Confidential Informants in New Jersey, American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey and the Criminal Law Reform Project, June 2011.

George C. Thomas III, “Emerging Trends in Criminal Procedure: The Short Unhappy Life of Consent Searches in New Jersey” in the Rutgers Law Record (36 Rutgers L. Rec. 1, 2009).

Stout, Bruce D. & Holleran, David. “The Impact of Mental Health Services on Juvenile Court Placements: An Examination of New Jersey’s System of Care Initiative,” Criminal Justice Policy Review (forthcoming).

New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, “Supplemental Report on New Jersey's  Drug Free Zone Crimes and Proposal for Reform,” April 2007.
Stout, Bruce D., Barlyn, Ben, "Report on New Jersey’s Drug Free Zone Crimes & Proposal for Reform. Trenton, New Jersey," New Jersey Commission to Review Criminal Sentencing, December 2005.

Data from the NJ DataBank may be used with the following acknowledgement:

Source: NJ DataBank (http://njdatabank.newark.rutgers.edu), a project of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, Rutgers University-Campus at Newark