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Computer kiosks will expand access to legal help in Springfield

Forest Park Library branch in Springfield, Mass.
Elizabeth Román
/
NEPM
Forest Park Library branch in Springfield, Mass.

A new program aimed at providing more access to the legal system in Springfield launches next week.

So-called legal kiosks are intended to provide information about free legal services and other resources in both English and Spanish. And, in some locations, people will be able to use the units to appear for virtual court hearings.

Ariel Clemmer is the director of Center for Social Justice at the Western New England University law school, which is spearheading the effort. She said remote proceedings have continued even after COVID-19 has eased, making it difficult for people without computers or Internet access to navigate the legal system.

"We're hoping that these legal kiosks will be able to empower folks by placing them at locations that are easily accessible by transportation and where people can go to get some assistance," she said.

There will be 11 kiosks available throughout Springfield, including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Family Services, Inc.; Western New England University School of Law library; New North Citizens' Council; Arise for Social Justice; United Way of Pioneer Valley; and Open Pantry Community Services; as well as the five Springfield City Branch Libraries – Brightwood, Forest Park, Indian Orchard, Mason Square, and the Library Express at Pine Point.

And, starting in the spring, a mobile version of the kiosk will also be available, dubbed the "Justice Bus." It will be brought to cities and towns as well as community events and will contain a computer station, internet access and a work area.

"It is so rewarding to be able to offer these two tech-based solutions and bring resources to the people who need them," Clemmer said.

The kiosks will be available starting Tuesday.

Adam joined NEPM as a freelance reporter and fill-in operations assistant during the summer of 2011. For more than 15 years, Adam has had a number stops throughout his broadcast career, including as a news reporter and anchor, sports host and play-by-play announcer as well as a producer and technician.