LANGUAGE ACCESS AT NCSC
The Language Access Services Section (LASS) provides state courts with resources to overcome language barriers in the courts and to ensure that providing individuals with limited English proficiency with access to the courts is a core function of the courts.
Issue: Court Interpreter Legislation
Approval of this legislation would allow states to access federal funds to support state court interpreter programs in areas such as certification, training, and general support.
State court leaders endorse the concept of a federal court interpreter program assisting the state courts.
Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) introduced legislation, which would authorize a grant program to support court interpreter efforts in the states (S 1329). This is the same bill that Senator Kohl introduced in the last Congress (S 702). The bill would authorize $15 million (M) in each of the fiscal years 2010-2015. The Department of Justice would award the grants. The grant program follows the model of the Court Improvement Program. The highest state court of each state would be eligible to apply for the funds. States applying for the grant would receive a base amount of $100,000. The remainder of the funds in the appropriated pool would be distributed to the states applying for funds based on the percentage of individuals (5 years or older) who speak other than English at home.
Status: In the last Congress, S 702 was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee on 4/24/08 by a vote of 14-5.
Senator Kohl reintroduced the State Court Interpreter Grant Program Act (S 1329) on 6/23/09.
He is asking for the state court community to contact their senators and urge them to co-sponsor this bill.