Project Safety — Pro Bono Civil Legal Aid Partnership for Domestic Violence Victims
This National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) is shining a spotlight on our partnership through Project Safety, a collaborative approach to addressing the civil legal needs of victims of family violence and sexual assault in King County.
By connecting crime survivors to pro bono legal aid, Project Safety helps minimize barriers that block access to justice, maximize available resources, and effectively coordinate needed civil legal services — which could include immigration, access to healthcare or government benefits, housing, education and more. By providing critical legal services, from legal advice to full representation in court, Project Safety helps survivors achieve safety and stability.
“We are just beginning to learn all of the adverse impacts that COVID-19 has had on crime victims in our community,” said Colleen McIngalls, Director of Victim Services at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “Research suggests that COVID-19 has had lasting impacts on the psychological and physical health of our community members, but COVID has also been a catalyst for additional effects like an increase in domestic violence, job loss, or homelessness. As our County looks to rebuild after COVID-19, it is critical that we invest in programs like Project Safety which provide emergency legal representation through a race equity lens to some of our most marginalized victims.”
“We are grateful to the Washington State Office of Civil Legal Aid and all of our Project Safety partners for their partnership to better serve marginalized crime victims with their critical civil legal needs,” said David Martin, Chair of the Domestic Violence Unit in the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
Formalized in 2020, Project Safety prioritizes historically marginalized communities, including people of color, survivors of gender-based violence, low-income households, LGBTQ+ people, and immigrants.
In addition to the KCPAO, partner organizations include:
- The Office of Civil Legal Aid
- Eastside Legal Assistance Program
- Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
- Northwest Justice Project
- Legal Voice
According to Washington’s 2015 Civil Legal Needs Study, “low-income Washingtonians routinely face multiple civil legal problems that significantly affect their everyday lives. The problems are experienced to greater degrees by low-income persons of color, victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, persons with disabilities, and youth.” Having access to legal counsel significantly increases the chances of a successful outcome that can empower a crime survivor in achieving long-term stability.