The Justice Gap in America
September 30, 2009 2:16 PM Subscribe
Nearly one million people who seek help for civil legal problems, such as foreclosures and domestic violence, will be turned away this year
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. A new report by the Legal Services Corporation
, a non-profit
established by Congress in 1974 to ensure equal access to justice
, finds that legal aid programs turn away one person for every client served. The full report, "Documenting the Justice Gap in America" is available here
(pdf). The 2009 report is an update and expansion on a 2005 report (available here
) finding that 80% of the poor
lacked access to legal aid.
Some of the problem may be due to restrictions
placed on non-profits that provide legal aid, including prohibiting LSC-funded programs from participating in class actions, seeking attorneys' fees, or advocating before administrative or legislative bodies for policy reform. The restrictions also make certain groups of people ineligible for legal representation from LSC-funded programs entirely and block organizations from using any other funds for any service or activity that they are barred from providing with LSC dollars. There is a bill currently being considered to end what some
have deemed unjust
restrictions on those providing access to legal aid.