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...

• Tied for 9th in Number of Police Fatalities

September 5, 2014. As ofthis date, New Jersey had two law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.  This tied for 9th with  seven other states. One of the officers, was shot responding to an armed robbery.  The other officer was killed when his vehicle was parked on the shoulder of a roadway and hit by a tractor trailer.  California had the most officers killed, with nine.  Nationally, the number of police fatalities was up by 18% over the same time in 2013.

• 1st in Anti-Corruption Ethics Laws

Date Not Available.  Last Accessed July 27, 2014. 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. 

• 11th in Corruption Convictions

November 14, 2013. New Jersey ranked 11th highest among the states for convictions of public officials, with 4.83 convictions per 100,000 residents.  Louisiana ranked first, with 9.24 convictions per 100,000 residents.  New Hampshire was lowest, with just .83 convictions per 100,000 residents.  Data are from the U.S. Department of Justice,  Public Integrity Section, 2012 Report to Congress. 

• 6th in the Concentration of Lawyers

May, 2013. New Jersey has the 6th highest concentration of lawyers with 4.90 employed attorneys per one thousand jobs in 2013 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. New York had the highest with 7.95.  North Dakota had the lowest concentration of lawyers with just 1.80 per 1,000 jobs.  Washington DC was the city with the highest concentration with 47.78 attorneys per thousand jobs.

• 5th in the Number of Hate Groups

Not dated, Last Accessed July 27, 2014.  There were 44 active hate groups in New Jersey in 2013, down from 51 in 2012.  New Jersey ranked 5th highest in the number of hate groups for any state according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.  California had the most hate groups with 77.  Nationally, the total number of such groups decline from 1,007 in 2012 to 939 in 2013.  Hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.  They include groups such as Neo-Nazis, skinheads, black separatists, and white nationalists.

• 10th in the Annual Mean Wage for Lawyers

May, 2013. With an annual mean wage of $133,330, New Jersey had the 10th highest wage for lawyers in 2013 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. California had the highest mean wage with $155,750. Montana had the lowest mean wage with $75,360.  

• Poorly on Free Speech in the State’s Universities

January 22, 2013. Of the 9 universities in New Jersey that were evaluated, 6 received a "red light" for restricting freedom of speech according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s 2013 report.  A red light is given to institutions that have "policies that clearly and substantively prohibit protected speech" (pg. 2). 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.

• 32nd in Fairness of Litigation Environment

September, 2012.  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.

June 26, 2012. 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


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