We believe that building the capacity of trusted community support providers to become justice navigators is a path to equal justice under law.
The South Carolina Justice Navigators Network works toward “justice for all” through training non-lawyer professionals within local social service organizations in justice navigation.
Using Legal Link’s Legal First Aid™ curriculum, navigators are given critical legal information and technological tools to support those they serve in the resolution of life-impacting legal issues upstream of lawyers and the court system.
With these tools, navigators can better facilitate equitable legal support for Lowcountry residents experiencing barriers to accessing the legal system.
The National Need
- Two thirds of people living below the poverty line in the United States experience at least one justice problem –involving eviction, debt, employment, and family arrangements among others – that have serious effects on their housing and financial security and family and individual wellbeing.
- Only about 20% of people experiencing a justice problem seek legal help; the majority try to solve such problems on their own. Most justice problems experienced by people experiencing poverty are not resolved effectively, driving them into deeper poverty.
The Charleston Tri-County Need
Low income and Black residents in the Tri-County area experience a host of housing, debt, family, and other justice problems with severe negative impacts on their health and wellbeing.
- 20% of South Carolinians live below the poverty line and are eligible for legal services, yet thousands are turned away every year due to resource limitations within legal aid organizations.
- South Carolina ranks last out of all states (as well as Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia) on the “Attorney Access” index, which analyzes the “civil legal aid attorney ratio,” or the number of attorneys available to represent people living in poverty.
- In South Carolina, there is only one legal aid attorney for 19,500 people eligible for such services.
- In the Charleston Tri-County area, barriers to legal help disproportionately affect Black residents, who suffer a much higher rate of poverty than White residents.
- Black residents earn 60% of what their white counterparts make and experience twice the unemployment rate.
- North Charleston was ranked as having the highest eviction rate in the country in 2016.
- South Carolina’s eviction rate rose to 25.7% in 2019 (the highest in the country).