Funding to increase access to justice for racialized inmates in Nova Scotia

Funding to increase access to justice for racialized inmates in Nova Scotia

March 6, 2024 – Halifax, Nova Scotia – Department of Justice Canada

Access to justice is a fundamental value in the Canadian justice system and an integral part of a fair society that respects the rule of law. The Government of Canada is committed to addressing systemic barriers in the justice system by providing fair and equal access to justice and legal services for vulnerable and traditionally marginalized groups, including racialized communities across Canada.

Today, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, with Lena Metlege Diab, Member of Parliament for Halifax West, announced $354,842 in project funding to the Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission to improve access to legal information and support services for racialized inmates incarcerated in federal and provincial correctional institutions within Nova Scotia.

This funding supports the Prison Law Support Worker pilot project which promotes equity, fairness and empowerment for incarcerated racialized individuals, including Indigenous and African Canadian inmates who continue to experience disproportionate rates of incarceration in the province. A full-time Prison Law Support Worker assists inmates by:

  • triaging those who need legal advice; assisting and advocating for Indigenous clients to obtain parole in their home communities; and assisting clients in developing release plans and community supports in preparation for parole hearings
  • providing self-represented inmates with legal information and research which they would not otherwise be able to access while in custody and offering letter writing and other non-legal advocacy services regarding conditions of their confinement
  • reviewing legal documents and preparing court documentation such as affidavits and subpoenas
  • ensuring access to legal seminars and workshops on issues related to prison law, inmates’ rights under provincial and federal legislation, and the processes available to obtain legal remedies.

Justice Canada is providing more than $350,000 in funding for this project over four fiscal years (2022–2026) through the department’s Justice Partnership and Innovation Program (JPIP) which funds projects that support a fair, relevant and accessible Canadian justice system. JPIP priorities include access to justice, addressing family violence, and emerging justice issues.

The Nova Scotia Legal Aid Commission provides a range of legal aid services throughout the province to vulnerable and historically disadvantaged individuals who may not have access to justice due to socioeconomic barriers. Their services focus on three areas of the law: criminal, family, and social justice.

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