The findings of the Boston Bar Association Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid show that increased funding for civil legal aid would actually save money that the state spends to help victims of homelessness and intimate partner violence (“Lawmakers should increase funding for civil legal aid,” Editorial, Nov. 10).
As one of the economic consultants involved in the recent study, I note that our findings show that the potential savings in short-term medical costs that the state otherwise would incur for lower-income victims of intimate partner violence exceed the proposed incremental costs of additional civil legal aid.
However, as compelling as these findings are, they belie the true extent to which such violence drains the state’s economy.
Beyond the initial medical costs for injury, these victims have a higher incidence of alcohol and drug abuse, ongoing depression, and suicide attempts; experience more physical health problems; and are less able to hold down permanent employment.
Children who witness such violence are less likely to graduate from high school or complete college; have more difficulty with alcohol, drug abuse, and other self-destructive behaviors; and are likely to be less productive in society when compared to peers who are not influenced by violence.
These issues have a significant ongoing economic impact on the state.
Expanding access to civil legal aid should be seen as the indispensable investment in Massachusetts’ future that it truly is.