CHARLESTON, WV – Gov. Jim Justice announced today that he has awarded a combined total of $880,320.10 in grant funding to go toward a pair of programs supporting West Virginia’s justice system.
CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES GRANT
Of the total amount, $850,000.00 has been awarded to Legal Aid of West Virginia, Inc. through a Civil Legal Services (CLS) grant.
These funds will be used to support the provision of civil legal services in West Virginia to individuals whose income is at or below 125% of the federal poverty level.
The West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice and Community Services (JCS) has been designated by §15-9A-4 as the agency responsible for the administration of the Civil Legal Services grant funds for the State of West Virginia.
JOHN R. JUSTICE STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM
The remaining $30,320.10 has been awarded to 11 prosecuting attorneys and public defenders across West Virginia through the John R. Justice Student Loan Repayment Program.
These funds will assist local prosecuting attorneys and public defenders with educational debt and increase the retention rates of qualified individuals in these fields throughout West Virginia.
The funds have been evenly distributed to the following individuals:
-James A. Adkins
-Michelle L. Minutelli
Marshall, Tyler, and Wetzel counties
-Jamie O. Crestfield
-Robert J. Lowe
-Paige W. Hoffman
-Jennifer Dawn Scragg Karr
-Kristina D. Raynes
The most consistently cited reason why attorneys decline or leave positions as prosecutors and public defenders is student loan debt. The majority of law students must borrow to finance their education and the rising costs are continuing to impose insurmountable debt. To extend the problem, public defender and prosecutor salaries are failing to keep pace with the escalating cost of education. As a result, talented lawyers are often unwilling to accept or remain in attorney positions as prosecutors or public defenders, creating real challenges for those offices in their quest to hire and retain capable attorneys.
These funds are provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs and are administered by the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services, Justice and Community Services (JCS).