Civil legal aid makes difference for crime victims

Civil legal aid is a sound public safety investment and promotes justice within the framework of the rule of law.

Op-Ed (Washington)

Dan Satterberg, Jon Tunheim
Olympian (WA)
April 6, 2017

Tags: Crime Victims


The Legislature’s 2015 risk-assessment study found domestic violence (DV) to be the greatest predictor of violent recidivism, not just of domestic violence, but all violent crime. DV victims who are forced to stay in an abusive relationship because they can’t afford a lawyer to fight for their rights are much more likely to be victimized again and again. The Civil Legal Needs Study details how domestic violence victims face up to 18 discrete legal problems that affect every aspect of their safety and most of which flow directly from their victimization.

Too often there is no help coming. The Legislature should change that this year by funding the Civil Justice Reinvestment Plan developed by a bipartisan legislative committee and ensure that helping crime victims is a priority. Simply put, when low-income people must face the justice system with inadequate legal aid, that is not just wrong, it is a failure by all of us involved in that justice system.