“[T]he observance of due process standards, intelligently and not ruthlessly administered, will not compel the States to abandon or displace any of the substantive benefits of the juvenile process.”
– In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1, 21 (1967)
NJDC and our partners around the country are not satisfied with the status quo in our juvenile justice system. We are dedicated to redefining and reforming juvenile defense practice and juvenile defense delivery systems.
The introduction of new and innovative ideas, methods, structures, and systems can improve juvenile defense, either incrementally or instantly, often with profound improvement for the nation’s youth. NJDC believes the innovation is key to raising the level of practice in and support for indigent juvenile defense. When the same old approach ends in the same old results, new strategies are needed to push reform forward. Whether it is through zealous advocacy in an individual case or larger movement on a system issue, NJDC actively encourages innovation and will use this section of its website to highlight these ideas.
Here are some indigent juvenile defense innovations that are taking hold around the country.
- Appeals: A Critical Check on the Juvenile Delinquency System
- Juvenile Defense Standards: A Framework for the Specialized Representation of Youth
- Specialized Training Advancing the Ethical and Professional Representation of Youth
- Ending the Indiscriminate Shackling of Youth
- Juvenile Defense Law School Clinics Building Leaders, Client Capacity, and Innovation
- Using Developmentally Appropriate Language to Communicate with Court-Involved Youth
- Raising the Bar with Comprehensive Juvenile Indigent Defense Contracts
- Protecting Rights, Promoting Positive Outcomes: Post-Disposition Access to Counsel
Innovation takes leadership. NJDC strives to support individuals and organizations who are taking steps to raise the profile of juvenile defense and promote the reality that representing youth in delinquency proceedings is a specialized practice. There are defender champions around the country making incredible marks in the field of juvenile defense. Check out our profiles of some of these trailblazers making a difference and protecting the rights of children.
NJDC also led efforts in the MacArthur-funded Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JDIAN), which spearheaded innovative juvenile defense reform in California, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Some of the innovations resulting from JIDAN included:
- Innovations that Combat Shackling
- Innovations Pushing for Better Post-Disposition Representation
- Innovations Promoting Awareness of Collateral Consequences Resulting from a Juvenile Adjudication
- Innovations Targeting Earlier Appointment of Juvenile Defense Counsel
- Innovations to Improve Youth’s Understanding of Judicial Orders & Colloquies
If you have a juvenile defense innovation you think our community should hear about, please contact NJDC.