The Foundation for Improvement of Justice, Inc.
March 10, 2020
The Foundation for Improvement of Justice is a private not-for-profit institution founded in 1984 for the purpose
of improving local, state, and federal systems of justice within the United States of America. Each year, the
Foundation accepts nominations for the Paul H. Chapman Award to recognize and reward individuals or
organizations whose innovative programs and work have made improvements in the various systems of justice.
Over $2,660,000 in cash awards have been distributed since 1986. The Foundation is pleased to announce the
2019 Paul H. Chapman Award winners:
Alaska Native Justice Center, Anchorage, AK – is recognized for their efforts in advocating for legislative reform
to fix their state’s gaps in sexual offense laws. Established in 1993, the Alaska native Justice Center advocates for
local and state changes promoting justice for Alaska native people. In 2018 the Alaska Native Justice Center,
successfully brought two resolutions before the State Federation of Alaska natives leading Alaska lawmakers to
propose and pass legislation that rectified loopholes in sentencing structure and better protected native people and
others from predators.
Amplifying Voices of Inmates with Disabilities (AVID), Seattle, WA – is recognized for its innovated approach in reforming how county and state jails deal with their disabled inmates. Founded in 2014, AVID investigates
allegations of abuse, neglect and rights violations, and when substantiated, advocates for change with corrections
administrators. Using “structured negotiations“ they have been able to stop jails from denying psychiatric
medication and therapy, segregating inmates with disabilities and punishing people for self harm, all without
John Bair, Buffalo, NY – is recognized for his efforts to reform funding sources for plaintiffs when seeking justice
through lawsuit litigation. John and his wife Amy founded Bairs Foundation in 2017 to be an alternative to for-profit
lending companies who only lend to individuals going through a lawsuit at nearly usurious interest rates. The Bairs
Foundation, the only one of its type in country, provides a low-cost simple interest rate funding option for plaintiffs
and their families. To date this organization has served over 225 families providing over $1.7 million in loans of
which 99.5% have been paid back.
Florida Justice Technology Center, Tallahassee, FL – is recognized for their innovative “tech” approach to
providing access to justice. Launched in 2015, the Florida Justice Technology Center (FJTC) created online tools
that provide legal issue education, DIY documents assistance on solving problems themselves, and when and how
to seek out legal aid help. Website evaluations for 2018 showed they reached nearly 400,000 unique visitors,
served 20,000 low-income residents with an estimated savings of $65,000. Additionally, FJTC connects the legal
aid community across the state providing subscribers access to resource libraries, downloadable legal document
templates that helps to coordinate consistent policies, and further saving attorney time by streamlining delivery of
information to justice advocates.
Vicki Sokolik, Tampa, FL – is recognized for her work with local homeless youth. Vicki began working with one
homeless student at a time helping them to secure housing, employment, graduate high school, and complete
college and scholarship applications. In 2007 after the city mayor approached her, she took her efforts city wide,
opening Starting Right, Now, a comprehensive program for homeless unaccompanied youths. Advocating for her
students’ ability to obtain essential documents and health care services led to advocating and promoting changes in
laws. Vicki successfully worked with senators and representatives to pass legislation to enable unaccompanied
youth to access their birth certificate, social security card, expedited emancipation, college tuition waivers and
Violence Intervention Program, Baltimore, MD – is recognized for its hospital-based intervention program
created to help stop the revolving door phenomenon of young gunshot victims and reduce the cost of violence.
Founded in the 1990’s, the Violence Intervention Program (VIP)is introduced bedside by case managers who guide
the clients through the program phases helping to move them from crisis, through goal development, into
solidification of pro-social values, ending in maintenance and becoming a community role-model. Annually since
1998, the program has served approximately 1600 clients and in 2018 out of the more than 1300 clients seen by
case managers, only two incidences of return were noted. Working with the state’s Criminal Injuries Compensation
Board to increase the approval rate of applications has further reduced the cost of violence. Recent legislation
recognized VIP as the innovator and leader in its field and made funding available to replicate their model.