/ Press Release
The Department of Justice and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) announced the launch of the Elder Justice AmeriCorps, the first program of its kind to provide high quality legal services to low-income older adults who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
There is a profound need for legal representation of older adults in the United States. The justice gap for victims of elder abuse is even greater than that for low-income individuals generally. A 2015 report showed that over 10% of seniors in the United States, approximately five million people a year, experience elder abuse such as neglect and financial exploitation. Of these five million Americans, only 1 in 24 report the abuse to authorities.
The Elder Justice AmeriCorps program is funded by the Justice Department’s Elder Justice Initiative, Office for Victims of Crime and CNCS, the federal agency which administers AmeriCorps and other national service programs. This new effort is also supported by the Justice Department’s Office for Access to Justice.
Equal Justice Works will receive $1.4 million over two years to deploy 150 AmeriCorps Members each year – 25 full-time practicing lawyers and 125 minimum-time law students – and an additional 300 pro bono volunteers, who will provide civil legal aid to an estimated 8,000 low-income adults. Equal Justice Works will partner with nationally renowned organizations that specialize in training lawyers who serve vulnerable adults and address elder abuse.
“Equal Justice Works is thrilled to be a part of the inaugural launch of Elder Justice AmeriCorps. This ground-breaking program will reduce instances of abuse and build a network of lawyers dedicated to elder justice,” said Equal Justice Works Executive Director David Stern. “Elder Justice AmeriCorps will improve lives through direct legal service and will serve as a catalyst for enhancing public awareness of elder abuse.”
An important component of this work will be to create multi-disciplinary teams of social workers, medical professionals, and law enforcement officials trained to recognize when abuse is occurring and to refer victims and their families to legal aid offices and other social services to address the abuse. This increased capacity to recognize and respond to abuse will help to address the abuse while it is occurring and reduce the frequency of elder abuse over time.
Equal Justice Works Elder Justice AmeriCorps Members and volunteers will provide high quality civil legal aid services to abused elders at approximately 17 established legal aid organizations in approximately 17 states including Alaska, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Montana, New York, Texas, Washington, D.C., Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia.
Equal Justice Works is the national leader in creating public interest opportunities for law students and lawyers. Collaborating with the nation’s leading law schools, law firms, corporate legal departments and nonprofit organizations, Equal Justice Works offers a continuum of opportunities that provide the training and skills that enable attorneys to provide effective representation to underserved communities and causes. Equal Justice Works is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.