Legal Aid Clinic offering free legal representation to non-violent offenders

Persons incarcerated for minor and non-violent offences can access free legal representation through the Ministry of Legal Affairs’ Support for Criminal Justice System Legal Aid Clinic.

Legal Aid Specialist, Ms. Orinthia Schmidt, emphasised that the clinic does not represent persons for serious offences, only non-violent offenders awaiting trial.

At a press briefing on Monday at the Umana Yana, Ms. Schmidt said the clinic conducts prison visits to determine whether inmates require representation.

“After an interview is conducted with the inmate, a retainer agreement is signed, and the clinic will take on the necessary representation for the matter,” she explained. The clinic also assists walk-ins with minor offences.

Ms. Schmidt noted that the clinic targets Georgetown and East Coast Demerara in Region Four, and the West Bank of Demerara in Region Three.

She is one of four lawyers working with the clinic. Four paralegals who completed their Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Guyana are also attached to the clinic and assist with the administrative work.

The clinic commenced in January and is part of a US$8 million IDB-funded project to help Guyana overcome prison overcrowding, by reducing pre-trial detentions and increasing the use of alternative sentencing, among other measures.

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