Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2016
By Emily Mieure Jackson Hole Daily | 0 comments
A Jackson legal aid organization that provides services to low-income residents has a new executive director.
Barbara Prescott recently returned to Teton Valley after living here in the 1980s. She started volunteering at Access to Justice after passing the Wyoming State Bar exam. Now she’ll be in charge.
Access to Justice provides free seminars and advice about custody, divorce, immigration and domestic violence.
The self-help legal resource center opened in 2012 and operates with funding from Equal Justice Wyoming, private grants and donations.
Departing Executive Director Karina Ostberg aimed to expand the services Access to Justice offers. Prescott said she plans to continue that mission.
“There are some changes in the works that Karina has started that I plan to continue,” she said. “The primary one is making services available to Lincoln and Sublette counties.”
Because of high housing costs in Jackson, many people live in surrounding counties, Prescott said, but still need the services. But new sources will be needed to expand as state funds become less certain.
“Personally I’m worried about the state of the … economy and I imagine it’s going to be a little more tenuous, the funding,” she said.
Access to Justice receives a biannual grant from the state.
But Prescott believes Access to Justice will have to rely more on private donors in the future given budget constraints in Wyoming. One of her first goals is to begin looking for those new sources.
Prescott will also work to increase community outreach through “different clinics and different hours.”
The goal is to boost awareness that the public is being served, Prescott said.
“This program has a great reputation statewide because of the number of people who are served,” Prescott said.
Access to Justice’s office is at 185 S. Willow Street.
The organization provides reference assistance in legal resources Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“We handle civil cases only. Criminal cases are held by the public defender,” Prescott said. “There are some real issues that some people have that aren’t criminal.”
Qualification depends on a client’s income. The only exceptions are domestic violence victims, who qualify for assistance no matter their income.
Prescott and a bookkeeper are the only employees of Access to Justice. Lawyers are hired on a contract basis. Prescott is looking for three board members to join her team on a volunteer basis. Interested applicants should call 734-9023.
Contact Emily Mieure at 732-7066 or [email protected]