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Feb 05 2011

5 Legal Aid Centres closed = more people in Remand

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Why do we need more prisons?  The BC Liberal government cut legal aid and reduced staff, cutting back core service and special projects – ignoring an increased demandThey also closed 10 BC jails! Why? The effects are devastating for low-income people, especially women with children who are unable to access the justice system.

The most recent round of cuts included:
* closing of five regional centres in Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, Victoria and Surrey and the legal aid portion of the Justice Access Centre in Nanaimo
* total layoffs: 58 (44 BCGEU members);
* cuts to tariffs for family, immigration and criminal law;
* stricter screening processes and eligibility requirements for clients;
* closing of the family law clinic;
* reductions in staff lawyers;
* reductions in services for people who cannot access legal representation through LSS, including cuts to the staffing of the LawLINE, Community Advocate Support Line, and family and other duty counsel.

The BC Government needs to restore the justice system –  fix it where it counts.

If Kelowna had a Legal Aid Office many people would not be in Remand waiting for a court date when a judge would appoint a lawyer to help them respond to charges. Warehousing people is wrong.

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