Letter to the Editor: Restore funding for legal services to low-income Alaskans

The attorneys of ALSC help achieve justice and create a better Alaska.

Since 1967, Alaska Legal Services Corporation has provided quality free civil legal services to low-income Alaskans. Beyond that, they provide training for those that need help in representing themselves. In both of these roles, that of advocate and teacher, the attorneys of ALSC help achieve justice and create a better Alaska.

Recently, ALSC has been providing services to 8,000 clients a year in 197 rural and urban communities throughout Alaska. This year the Legislature appropriated $759,000 for ALSC. This money was vetoed.

In the past, ALSC has had to turn away half of those who seek their help. This veto will only increase that ratio, to the detriment of Alaska’s people. Each year ALSC secures millions of dollars in direct federal benefits for eligible families. This results in stimulated local spending and allows its clients to receive the benefits due them and actually saves the state and local budgets from having to step in and respond to these needs.

I had been a superior court judge for 27 years when I retired seven years ago. I heard many cases represented by ALSC attorneys. They presented their client’s best case, made it easier for the opposing side to understand and negotiate, and made for a better, more efficient use of the courtroom. They greatly helped in achieving just results.

Our justice system is better for the work of the Alaska Legal Services Corporation. I encourage the Legislature and the governor to correct the veto and restore the $759,000 for the Alaska Legal Services Corporation.

— Peter Michalski, Anchorage

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