Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Language Barriers to Justice

Last week, I had a brief post about working with interpreters. Today I came across Language Barriers to Justice in California, a report of the California Commission on Access to Justice (Sept. 2005).

Some facts from the executive summary:

  • "40 percent of the state’s population speaks a language other than English in the home."
  • "Nearly seven million Californians cannot access the courts without significant language assistance, cannot understand pleadings, forms or other legal documents, and cannot participate meaningfully in court proceedings without a qualified interpreter."
  • "The right to have a state-funded interpreter in a criminal proceeding has long been recognized by the courts; however, in most civil proceedings — even those affecting fundamental rights — California does not recognize the right to an interpreter, and there are not adequate funds to pay for interpreters."
  • "In recent years, demand for interpreter services has grown steadily while the number of interpreters available to meet that demand has dropped by more than 35 percent."
The commission recommends:
  • adoption a comprehensive language access policy for courts.
  • "specific plans designed to achieve the goal of guaranteeing such access, including adequate funding to provide for qualified interpretation and translation services; access to standard court documents (such as forms and instructions) in, at a minimum, those languages spoken by a significant number of the population using court services; and training and resources to assist court staff, administrators and judges in identifying and addressing language issues."
  • setting up training packages and model protocols for court staff to implement the policies.
  • reevaluating the system for training and certifying interpreters.
  • evaluating "the role of lawyers and bar associations, legal services programs, law schools and law libraries."
  • compiling data and conducting further research.

Categories: ,

No comments: