More State Money is Needed to Provide Legal Representation for Poor

The editorial board of the Austin American-Statesman urges the state legislature to increase funding for civil legal services in Texas.

Editorial (Texas)

Editorial Board of Austin American-Statesman
Austin American-Statesman
March 30, 2015
Link to story

Tags: Access to Justice Commissions, Funding: IOLTA, Funding: State & Local, Justice Gap

Organizations mentioned/involved: Texas Access to Justice Commission (TATJ), Texas Access to Justice Foundation (TAJF)


DETAILS

This country has a legal-aid funding crisis. Matters are just as bad, if not worse, in Texas.

Currently, 5.6 million Texans qualify for legal assistance with issues such as domestic violence, foreclosures and health care for the elderly. Yet insufficient state funding makes access to legal representation for the poor almost impossible. Only about 104,000 families receive help each year from a small group of legal aid organizations.

Several bills filed this session — including House Bill 2969 and its companion, Senate Bill 1057 — aim to increase state indigent defense system funding. Access to justice should not be reserved only for those who can afford to pay for legal services. Our state lawmakers should make indigent defense a priority and increase the funding.