The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) is pleased to support the John R. Justice Program (JRJ Program) in Arizona. Please take a moment to review the materials below to see if you qualify for student loan assistance through the JRJ Program.
WHAT IS THE JRJ STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM?
One pressing challenge facing our criminal justice system today is the retention of those who serve everyday to ensure that our communities are protected and the rule of law is upheld—including our prosecutors and public defenders. In the current economy, both prosecutor and public defender offices find it difficult to attract and retain talented attorneys. Driven by educational debt, attorneys interested in public interest law often forego opportunities to work in these offices in order to seek more lucrative private sector positions. Attorney shortages in these offices can result in overworked attorneys handling unmanageable caseloads, potentially affecting public safety, the administration of justice, and ultimately the public's confidence in our justice system.
Student loan debt is consistently cited as the overwhelming reason why attorneys decline or leave positions as prosecutors and public defenders. The vast majority of law students borrow to finance their legal education and the rising costs have imposed staggering debt. Furthermore, public defender and prosecutor salaries have failed to keep pace with the escalating cost of education. As a result, talented lawyers are often unwilling to accept attorney positions as prosecutors or public defenders, creating real challenges for those offices in their quest to hire and retain capable attorneys.
Acknowledging this challenge, Congress enacted the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act (42 U.S.C. § 3797cc-21), named for the late John Reid, Justice of South Carolina, to encourage qualified attorneys to choose careers as prosecutors and public defenders and to continue in that service. The John R. Justice (JRJ) Program provides loan repayment assistance for local, state, and federal public defenders and local and state prosecutors who commit to continued employment as public defenders and prosecutors for at least three years. The Arizona Criminal Justice Commission (ACJC) is the new Governor-designated entity administering the JRJ Program in Arizona.
Congress provided the first year of funding for the JRJ Program in fiscal year 2010. Now, the JRJ Program will allot $147,538 to the ACJC for fiscal year 2023.
The JRJ Program requires equal distribution of awards between prosecutors and public defenders. In fiscal year 2015 when the Administrative Offices of the Court (AOC) executed the program, 12 Arizona attorneys serving as public defenders and 13 Arizona attorneys serving as prosecutors received between $1,375 and $1,490 each through the JRJ Program. While we will attempt to serve the same number of recipients in fiscal year 2020, the specific number of awardees and award amount will not be known until all applications have been reviewed and evaluated.
Beginning in fiscal year 2013, individuals who satisfied their initial three-year service agreement through the JRJ Program could apply for a secondary term of service. If approved for additional funding, the JRJ beneficiary will be required to sign another service agreement for a period of not less than one year.
Award monies are paid directly to the lender or servicer of the loan upon execution of the service agreement required for participation in the JRJ Program. As required by the grant, the award money is intended to supplement, not substitute, the recipient’s personal student loan obligation. Awards are renewable, however all awards are subject to federal funding of the JRJ Program.
Frequently Asked Questions
The application period for the FY23 program year is now OPEN.
Deadline to submit applications is March 2, 2023.
Your completed application packet must include:
You can also print and mail your application to:
If you have any questions about the application process or would like more information, please email Ashley Mully at [email protected].