how the High Cost of Justice Pushes the Poor Into Prison

For poorer citizens, the cost of seeking justice often becomes so prohibitive they just give up.
News Story (NATIONAL)

Alice Speri
Intercept, The
May 13, 2016

Tags: Criminal Justice, Justice for All

Organizations mentioned/involved: National Center for Access to Justice (NCAJ) at Fordham Law School


A national survey published by the National Center for Access to Justice this week found that people in poverty have virtually no access to civil aid attorneys — only .64 are available per 10,000, as opposed to an average of 40 lawyers per 10,000 people in the general population. “I don’t think most people appreciate how high the stakes are in our civil justice system,” said David Udell, executive director of the group. “The justice system on the civil side has to work in order to reduce conflict. If the civil justice system doesn’t work, there is a slope that leads into the criminal justice system.”

Civil legal aid attorneys — only 6,953 out of some 1.3 million lawyers nationwide — are funded by a combination of federal, local, and private money, but with some 21 million new civil cases filed every year, a majority of poor people seeking civil legal aid are turned down.