Legal Aid's Chief Attorney Tells City Council Proposed Cuts Will Have Harsh Impact on Low Income New Yorkers
TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2009

Steven Banks, Attorney-in-Chief of The Legal Aid Society, told New York City Council members that proposed cuts for the criminal defense and civil legal services in the Fiscal Year 2010 Executive Budget will have an especially harsh impact on low income New Yorkers who need legal services.

"We are mindful of the extreme financial difficulties that the City is facing. At the same time, these extraordinary economic conditions are having an especially harsh impact on low income New Yorkers and the need for the legal help that the Society provides to these struggling families and individuals is increasing exponentially. Against this backdrop, the proposed cuts for criminal defense and civil legal services in the FY2010 Executive Budget will hurt New Yorkers accused of crimes and families and individuals who need civil legal help in the midst of this severe economic downturn, " Banks told the Council Members. " In the criminal defense area, we cannot keep taking on new cases, provide the constitutionally mandated defense for New Yorkers, and absorb new City cuts on top of $3.2 million in cuts that we have already sustained in the 2008-2009 City budget and the 2009-2010 State budget. On the civil side, we have also already suffered $3 million in cuts in the 2008-2009 City budget and we are forced to turn away six out of every seven New Yorkers who seek our help. With the new proposed City cuts, we will have to turn away more families and individuals who need legal aid to get unemployment and disability benefits, flee from domestic violence, and prevent evictions, foreclosures, and homelessness which is at record levels in New York City."

Read the full testimony.