The National Juvenile Defender Center conducts state-based assessments of access to and quality of juvenile defense counsel. The assessments provide comprehensive examinations of the systemic and institutional barriers that prevent lawyers from providing adequate legal services to indigent children within a particular state legal system. In addition to gathering general data and information about the structure of the juvenile indigent defense system, assessments examine issues related to the timing of appointment of counsel, the frequency with which children waive their right to counsel and under what conditions they do so, resource allocation, attorney compensation, supervision and training, and access to investigators, experts, social workers and support staff. Assessments also highlight promising approaches and innovative practices within the state and offer recommendations to improve weak areas.

These reports are part of a nationwide effort to improve juvenile indigent defense across the country. Defenders, judges, legislatures, bar associations, and others have acted to implement recommendations from their respective state assessments, significantly improving the access to and quality of representation for children. Preliminary work on assessments in new states is always underway.

Each of the assessments we have published thus far is available here, along with related information and media attention.

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