Friday, July 4, 2008

Save Legal Aid

Some altruistic law student really needs to go work for Legal Aid at the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre --- not me, Christ no, but someone. It's a mess down there. Every day, familiar faces appear on the Courtroom 12 video screen, requesting that their next court date be pushed back until they can receive approval from Legal Aid. It has gotten to the point that the Justices of the Peace have begun furrowing their brows and swinging their chins and audibly exhaling through their noses, which I think is a bad sign indeed.

The provincial Crown has promised to look into expediting the process, but there seems to be little he can do. For a variety of reasons, the EMDC facility is often locked down, which means that prisoners are only released from their cells for half an hour per day. This gives them no time to consult with Legal Aid or undergo its apparently lengthy interviews. If an inmate doesn't get an interview, he doesn't get Legal Aid. If he doesn't get Legal Aid, his lawyer pushes back his next court appearance until he can get Legal Aid. The system is so backlogged that some of them are incarcerated for a month before their lawyers can or will act for them. It's frustrating for everyone concerned.

Something has to be done about this. If inmates don't get their Legal Aid soon, the prison will become overcrowded, ultimately leading a situation akin to the scene in Ghostbusters when William Atherton kills the power and all the ghosts get out of the metal box and resume terrorizing Manhattan. It would be like that but with more Oxycodone.

So come on, (both) you altruistic law students: Ellen "Big Mama" Clarke, sixty-year-old godmother of the crack cocaine trade in London Ontario, needs your help!

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