A new report has found that in 2019 and 2020, for every one dollar invested in Michigan’s civil legal aid services, they delivered nearly seven dollars in financial benefits.
That includes savings in law enforcement and court systems as well as reductions in community medical care expenses.
WKAR’s Sophia Saliby spoke with Angela Tripp, the vice chair of the state’s Justice for All Commissionwhich issued the report.
On why this report was created
Unlike the criminal context, where everyone is entitled to an attorney even if they can’t afford one, there is no such guarantee on the civil side. And so civil legal aid is kind of the only option for people with civil legal needs to get legal help if they can’t afford to hire their own attorney. One of the Justice For All Commission’s goals is to increase funding for civil legal aid, you know, the more funding these programs have, the more people they can help, the more needs they can meet.
On the return of investment for offering civil legal aid
So to be able to say that, you know, for every dollar you give a civil legal aid program, we deliver $6.69 in immediate and long term consequential financial benefits, really puts that in a framework that a lot more people understand and appreciate. And so, it’s not just this mother and her three children who get to retain housing because, you know, that’s a priceless benefit. You can’t really put a price tag on that, except that you can put a price tag on what that saves in other areas in terms of money saved in sheltering that family and access to emergency public benefits.
On how the report will impact the state of legal aid services in Michigan