Lawyers will use mobile justice units for legal services

The Legal Services mobile unit will help residents access legal aid across the country. (Photo source by Susan Ellis)

Thanks to a nationwide grant from the Legal Services Corporation in Washington, DC, the Legal Services of the Virgin Islands Inc. can now visit remote areas to help people without transportation meet their legal needs, even when the Internet and the power grid is down.

One of the two units was on display at Emancipation Park in Frederiksted on Tuesday. The other van will be used in the St. Thomas / St. Jean district. Inside the vans, three offices and a waiting area allow volunteer lawyers (volunteers) to help more than one client at a time. There is a video conferencing system and printers for paperwork and legal documents. A wheelchair lift makes the van comply with the Americans with Disability Act, and a satellite dish and generator create a hot spot wherever it is parked. Outside the vehicle, an attached awning provides shade and a smart TV is available for presentations.

“We decided, instead of just using it to help us after the disaster and using it immediately, we would build for the future,” Shelby King Gaddy, executive director of Legal Services, told The Source.

The launch ceremony was attended by staff and stakeholders, including government officials. Gaddy said the organization has been defending the land for 50 years and staff have “reservoirs of compassion that never run dry.”

The mission of the Virgin Islands Legal Services is to access justice, protect rights and educate people living in poverty. Gaddy said the van will travel regularly to Frederiksted and other areas.

Kenneth Guye, Chief Financial Officer of VI Legal Services, recalls the characteristics of the Legal Services mobile unit. (Photo source by Susan Ellis)

Virgin Islands Legal Services is a 501 (c) 3 organization, founded in 1968. More than 1,000 cases are closed each year nationwide, Gaddy said.

Programs include the Senior Medicare Patrol to help Medicare beneficiaries prevent, detect, and report healthcare fraud, errors, and abuse.

The Disaster Advocacy Program was established after Hurricanes Irma and Maria to manage the increase in disaster-related legal issues, provide disaster legal assistance workshops, community outreach activities, and training materials. training for volunteer lawyers. The Disaster Advocacy Program provides legal assistance and pro bono assistance to low-income disaster survivors. Services include emergency child care, housing assistance, document identification and retrieval, and emergency benefits such as emergency food stamps and FEMA benefits to pay. rent and other expenses.

Government officials who attended the launch included Police Commissioner VI Trevor Velinor, Deputy Police Commissioner Celvin Walwyn, Disaster Recovery Office Director Adrienne Williams-Octalien, Forensic Branch Administrator VI Regina Petersen and a representative from the office of Congressman Stacey Plaskett.

Government officials, left to right, Celvin Walwyn, Adrienne Williams-Octalien, Trevor Velinor, Shelby King Gaddy and Regina Petersen attend the launch of the Legal Services Mobile Unit. (Photo source by Susan Ellis)

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