(TNS) — For some individuals who need to find basic legal information about bankruptcy or child support or who want to attend a hearing held on videoconferencing software before a judge, access to reliable technology can be a barrier to accessing the legal system.
The Center for Social Justice at Western New England School of Law wants to change that.
Now, there’s a kiosk to help. Eleven of them, in fact, placed around Springfield with the help of funding from the Mass Mutual Foundation.
The Center for Social Justice debuted its effort on Monday, demonstrating one of the kiosks intended to help residents address civil law matters.
The kiosks enable residents to access information about legal issues such as domestic violence, eviction and homelessness, discover the nearest providers of free legal services and print out forms and papers they may need. In some locations, individuals may also join online meetings and participate in virtual court sessions.
For the past several years, the Center for Social Justice has worked to provide free legal assistance at Springfield District Court, said Ariel Clemmer, director of the center.
“These kiosks are an attempt to work upstream of that and to intercede in any legal issues before it gets into the court system,” said Clemmer. “The next phase is going to be the justice bus project, which will help take these kiosks and bring them out to community events.”
The construction and distribution of the $1,000 kiosks is part of the center’s Consumer Debt Initiative, which was developed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MassMutual Foundation was awarded $400,000 to assist the law school in completing the aims of the program from 2020 to 2022 and recently awarded the school another $400,000 for 2022 to 2023.
To date, the MassMutual Foundation has been awarded over $1