The Florida Justice Institute is a nonprofit public interest law firm that conducts civil rights litigation and advocacy in the areas of prisoners’ rights, housing discrimination, disability discrimination, and other areas that impact the lives of Florida’s poor and disenfranchised. FJI is led by Executive Director Randall C. Berg, Jr., and is staffed by attorneys who handle major, systemic civil rights litigation throughout the state of Florida. We are funded primarily through private donations and generous grants from the Florida Bar Foundation, the state’s distributor of IOLTA money.
FJI’s primary purpose is to conduct impact litigation on behalf of people incarcerated in Florida’s prisons and jails, to improve the conditions of those facilities and help give a voice to incarcerated persons and their families. Although we primarily concentrate on class actions and other impact cases, we do sometimes take individual cases in certain circumstances. These types of cases include wrongful death, deliberate indifference to serious medical need, unconstitutional conditions of confinement, excessive force, failure to protect, First Amendment (including free speech, censorship, and religious freedom), disability discrimination, and others.
FJI also represents non-incarcerated victims of housing discrimination, disability discrimination, police misconduct, and engages in various other forms of impact litigation, education, and advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised. Our efforts include trial-level and appellate litigation, legislative advocacy, administrative rule-making, and public education.
For more information on FJI’s history and to learn about some of our major accomplishments, please see our History page. For more information about more recent accomplishments, please see the Our Impact page. For information on getting legal help, please see our Contact Us page.
The United States currently incarcerates over 2.3 million people in federal and state prisons and local jails across the country, meaning 1 out of every 99 American adults is currently confined to a jail or prison cell. With a prison population of 98,000 inmates, Florida has the third largest prison population of any state, managing these inmates in 137 facilities across the State and spending over $2.3 billion per year to do so. These people have no political voice, no say in how they are treated, and have almost no groups or organizations to advocate on their behalf. The small staff of the Florida Justice Institute accounts for many of the lawyers in Florida whose primary purpose involves the needs of institutionalized persons. Read more.
In today’s world, being able to purchase or rent a home is something that many people take for granted. In 1968, when the Fair Housing Act was enacted, a large portion of the American population could not enjoy this right, and instead lived in a world where housing discrimination on the basis of race, handicap, or religion was commonplace. Over the years, courageous victims of discrimination have stood up for their rights, helping to advance the cause of equality in our housing and rental markets. Read more.
Individuals with disabilities deserve the same access to housing, programs, events, services, and benefits as anyone else. However, despite the decades-long existence of disability laws, some government agencies or public accommodations have simply not complied them. FJI staff are dedicated to enforcing these laws, to ensure equal access for everyone, regardless of abilities. Read more.
Other Impact Litigation
FJI is dedicated to improving the administration of justice throughout the state, protecting fundamental rights, and helping to create a more just society for all. To achieve these goals, FJI engages in Impact Litigation, both within our prescribed categories of cases and in other areas, aimed at institutional reform. Throughout the years, FJI has brought numerous cases that have achieved a wide-ranging impact for a large number of people through consent decrees or other settlements. Read more.