This year, for the first time, the federal government has allowed states to use funding through the Victims of Crime Act to support civil legal aid for victims.
New Hampshire Legal Assistance and the Legal Advice and Referral Center, along with the Pro Bono Program of the NH Bar Association, recently received $1.1 million for three years of work helping victims of domestic violence and stalking as they navigate the civil legal system.
Of the more than 5,000 domestic violence and stalking victims who filed restraining order petitions in the state in 2015, just 9 percent received legal help, according to the court system.
With the new money, New Hampshire Legal Assistance will hire two attorneys focused solely on domestic violence and stalking cases, more than doubling the organization’s current capacity to help victims. (The new attorneys will work with crisis centers in Strafford, Rockingham and Hillsborough counties.)
The Legal Advice and Referral Center, which connects victims with crisis centers and lawyers, will hire an additional intake screener. And the New Hampshire Bar Association’s Pro Bono Program will launch a new statewide program to help stalking victims and work to recruit more private volunteer attorneys.
The goal of the organizations is to identify victims early and begin helping them at the start of the court process. Victims often don’t know what information to include to ensure their restraining orders are granted and they win fair child support.
This new grant is a crucial step toward restoring the level of legal aid that was available for low-income New Hampshire residents before significant cuts in public funding in 2011. We know domestic violence victims live in all corners of our state, from our large cities to our isolated rural towns.
The Campaign is continuing our work to bridge the gap between the need and the available public resources through outreach to individuals and businesses statewide.
Click here to make a secure online gift to support programs that ensure survivors like Abby have access to justice to provide safety and stability to their families – no matter where they live.