Last year, half the people who sought help from a nonprofit legal aid program that got funding from the Legal Services Corporation were turned away because of insufficient resources.
About a million cases where our system failed to provide equal justice under the law.
Nonprofit legal aid programs have experienced huge budget crunches due to a combination of recession-related impacts. They're cutting back on staff and on the types of cases they'll handle.
Grants from the Legal Services Corporation won't fully resolve their problems. But if Congress doesn't fully fund the corporation, the justice gap will surely grow.
The LCS budget is at high risk due to the Republican Congressional leadership's pledge to slash most non-security spending in the upcoming year.
So urge your members of Congress to approve the full budget increase the Legal Services Corporation has requested. It's a small amount. So it will have no meaningful impact on the deficit. But it will make a big difference to many thousands of struggling low-income people.
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The recession has increased both needs for civil legal services and the number of people who can't afford to pay for them. At the same time, it has severely impacted diverse funding sources that nonprofit legal aid programs depend on.
Last year, the Legal Services Corporation reported that half the low-income people who sought help from a nonprofit legal aid program it helped support were turned away because of insufficient resources. There was only one legal aid attorney for every 6,415 poor people. This is considerably less than the minimum access standard Congress used to support.
The World Justice Project now ranks the U.S. last among all high-income countries in access to civil justice. Remedying this shameful record will take more than a one-year budget increase for the Legal Services Corporation. However, a reasonable, needs-based budget increase will be a step in the right direction, and it will have no meaningful impact on the deficit.
So please vote for the full budget increase the Legal Services Corporation has requested.