42 AGs seek funding for nonprofit legal services

Attorney General Jim Hood has joined a bipartisan group of 42 Attorneys General in a letter to the U.S. House and Senate Committees on Appropriations to request funding for the Legal Services Corporation. 

Established by Congress in 1974, LSC is a nonprofit legal service which promotes equal access to justice for all Americans by funding independent nonprofit legal aid programs.

The Attorneys General are asking for LSC funding in the Fiscal Year 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. LSC provides millions of dollars in funding to legal aid organizations that serve and support low-income individuals, veterans and military families, seniors, survivors of domestic violence, victims of natural disasters, and disabled individuals.

“A person’s income, disability, or life situation should not bar them from having access to legal services,” Hood said. “Without the Legal Services Corporation, thousands of Mississippians very well may not have had another option in obtaining representation in court. I hope Congressional leaders will recognize the importance of this program and grant it the necessary funding to continue its services.”

LSC distributes more than 90 percent of its funding to 132 independent nonprofit legal aid programs with more than 800 offices. In Mississippi, 28.3 percent of the population, or 819,295 people are eligible for LSC services. North Mississippi Rural Legal Services, which covers the northern part of the state, assisted 14,530 people in 2017. 

In the central and southern regions, the Mississippi Center for Legal Services (MCLS) served approximately 12,615 people in 2016; however, more than half of those eligible for services are being turned away due to a lack of resources. There is one attorney for every 26,000 eligible persons. In contrast, the public enjoys approximately 537 attorneys for every person.

The Mississippi legal services offices are located in Clarksdale, Greenville, Gulfport, Hattiesburg, Jackson, Meridian, McComb, and Oxford.