Legal Aid of the Bluegrass (LABG) is announcing the launch of The Justice Bus, an innovative new project to increase access to justice for low-income Kentuckians. Funded by the American Bar Endowment (ABE), The Justice Bus will serve as a pop-up legal office in rural counties where: LABG has no offices, are not located near an urban center, have sparse populations and community services, and where transportation and cell/internet service is a barrier.
“This project comes at the heels of our Legal Needs Assessment which identified that people living in rural counties feel particularly isolated but still have a great need for legal services which restore basic needs like housing and safety and help maintain dignity and independence” says Executive Director, Joshua Crabtree. “Lack of legal help located nearby, transportation and connectivity issues all played a factor in why people are not accessing our services. The Justice Bus lets us bring the services to them.”
LABG was selected from over 50 proposals to receive the ABE grant that will be used to purchase and customize a van to serve as the pop-up legal office. The funding will cover the cost of the van, mobile computer equipment, satellite internet, videoconferencing equipment in the van and in each of LABG’s four offices. The Justice Bus is expected to be ready for the road in late Summer of this year.
Counties where the ‘Justice Bus’ will have regularly scheduled days and hours of service include: Bath, Bracken, Carroll, Elliott, Garrard, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Nicholas, and Robertson. The combined overall population of these counties is just below 103,000 people according to the 2012 census. There are currently only 88 active attorneys located within these 10 counties so lawyers, paralegals and outreach personnel from more populous areas of LABG’s service region will travel and staff the pop-up office. Working together, they will assure low-income clients have access to the staff and services needed to resolve their civil legal issues.