On October 29, U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced the restoration of a standalone Office for Access to Justice and the release of the report “Access to Justice in the Age of COVID-19.” JustLeadershipUSA President and CEO DeAnna Hoskins released the following statement.
“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the disparities across our criminal justice system, particularly how low-income and people of color not only continue to be impacted by mass incarceration and over-policing, but the exacerbated inequities of access to legally granted rights, services, and protections. During this time, JustLeadershipUSA released our 2021-2024 Roadmap, demanding meaningful changes around this very issue – chief among them the reinstitution of the Access to Justice Office. Today, on the coattails of the report from Attorney General Merrick Garland and the Justice Department our demand has been turned into action, as they reestablish this office.
This report and interagency collaboration is the critical first step towards meaningful policy that provides safe alternatives to incarceration and legal procedures, that ensures the health and safety, as well as the civil rights, of those within the criminal justice system are upheld. The reestablishment of the Office for Access to Justice will increase access to justice in both the civil and criminal justice systems and will help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status. We commend the current administration for this step, but JustLeadershipUSA will continue to advocate for legislation and new frameworks at the national level to drive change across our country. Voices of those who have been directly impacted by the criminal justice system must be heard in order to bring justice and equity to all.”