NLADA SHARPLY CRITICIZES DAMAGING CUTS PROPOSED FOR LEGAL AID FOR THE POOR
Washington, DC (July 8, 2011) —The National Legal Aid & Defender Association today sharply criticized a House subcommittee proposal that would slash legal services funding for the low-income people at a time when housing, healthcare and other domestic matters are pushing America’s poor people further into poverty.
“There are times when legal aid is the only safeguard that prevents America’s most vulnerable population from winding up on the streets, and this irresponsible proposal removes that protection in one fell swoop,” said Don Saunders, NLADA vice president for civil legal services.
On Thursday, July 7, the House Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations subcommittee marked up its version of the FY 2012 appropriations bill, which recommends a $104 million reduction for Legal Services Corporation funding. The bill includes $300 million for LSC, a $104 million reduction from the FY 2011 funding level of $404.2 million for a total cut of 26 percent. This amount represents a $120 million reduction from the FY 2010 funding level of $420 million. The entire cut comes from the basic field line, which is reduced from FY 2011 by 27.5 percent – from $378 million to $274 million.
The proposal is already causing distress in the legal services community, which serves people unable to afford attorneys but have basic human needs that could be protected by quality legal representation. “This disastrous cut comes at a time when programs are seeing significant reductions in other funding available for civil legal aid,” Saunders said. “Now, more than ever, the federal government needs to ensure that our justice system is available to the millions of people living in poverty in the United States.”
# # #
National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) is America’s oldest and largest nonprofit association devoted to excellence in the delivery of legal services to those who cannot afford counsel. For 100 years, NLADA has pioneered access to justice at the national, state and local level through the creation of our public defender system, development of nationally applicable standards for legal representation, groundbreaking legal legislation and the creation of important institutions such as the Legal Services Corporation. NLADA serves as the collective voice for our country’s civil legal aid and public defender services and provides advocacy, training, technical assistance and the NLADA Insurance Program to its members, who are comprised of legal professionals, institutions and the people they represent.