The city has a Welcome Dayton program ready for 2016. Its aim is to assist in the translation of pamphlets for victim information and victim notification letters coming from the office of the Montgomery County prosecutor into different languages, including Somali, Chinese, Russian, Arabic and Spanish.
The program’s other objective is to help the court in the translation of sentence entries and protection orders into the region’s most commonly spoken foreign languages. The municipal government has not released the projected cost of the translation service. City officials say that this expanded service is now needed since there is an increase in the number of foreign language speakers and most of them do not comprehend the documents that were given to them, which include conditions of probation, pleas or criminal charges. For several years, the only other language most of the important documents were translated into was Spanish.
More foreign languages today
The municipal courts of Dayton have seen an increase in plaintiffs, victims and defendants who are unable to understand the English language, since they come from other parts of the world such as Africa, China, Russia and the Middle East. According to Murray, there are now more speakers of Swahili, Turkish and Russian, as well as other dialects in their community.
Based on the most current data, the foreign-born population in the United States now stands at 57 percent. In Ohio, people who speak less than well is in the ratio of 1:15.
Although translators are provided if foreign speakers appear in court, they receive court orders written in English, which could be verbally translated but the foreign speakers do not get a hard copy of the document in their language. This is one of the areas that will see a major change in 2016. Conversely, they would be expecting defendants to be able to comprehend the court orders and comply with them.
The office of the Dayton prosecutor also joined the Welcome Dayton program. They would translate important informational documents as well as victim-notification communications.
Welcome Dayton’s program coordinator, Melissa Bertolo said that some of the legal forms still need to be available in the English language in order for court staff to fully understand, process and input submitted information but the defendants and victims need the documents and records translated in their own language for their reference. She added that failure to comply with the terms of probation or a court order can result in property forfeiture, incarceration or any other punishments.
Language access policy
Earlier this year, the city of Dayton had adopted a language-access policy, which states that no citizens in the city should be denied access to services due to their limited proficiency in the English language. Document translation is also a priority of said policy.
The population in the city of Dayton speak about 50 dialects.