The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network is a Models for Change-supported effort that was launched in 2008 to engage leadership in targeted strategies to improve juvenile indigent defense policy and practice. The action network is an issue-focused forum for the development and exchange of ideas and strategies across states, and for sharing practical information and expertise in support of reform. Ultimately, the action network is working to create a leadership community that will guide other states and shape nationwide responses.

What’s New in JIDAN

The work of JIDAN is progressing at a fast and exciting pace. Our states have made tremendous progress in our areas of strategic innovations.

In California, JIDAN has allowed the team to continue building the infrastructure of the Pacific Juvenile Defender Center (PJDC), a statewide resource center for California’s defenders. PJDC now boasts an active member listserv, a website and new PJDC logo design. The team has engaged defenders in all 58 counties and is working hard to draw them into the juvenile defender community.

California is also collaborating with noted expert on adolescent development, Dr. Thomas Grisso, to create competency protocols and legislation that the team presented to the Subcommittee on Juvenile Competence of the Judicial Council Taskforce on Mental Health.

The Florida team was just handed a decisive victory in their state’s Supreme Court on shackling youth. The Florida Supreme Court stated the “the indiscriminate shackling of children in Florida courtrooms as described in the NJDC’s assessment repugnant, degrading, humiliating, and contrary to the stated primary purposes of the juvenile justice system and to the principles of therapeutic justice.” The proposal to the amendments is in response to specific recommendations made in NJDC’s assessment. Read the decision here.

To support and monitor implementation of Illinois’ new early access to counsel legislation, which guarantees access to counsel for juvenile respondents and sprang largely from NJDC and the Children and Family Justice Center’s 2007 assessment of the Illinois juvenile justice system, the Illinois team formed the Right to Counsel Coalition to create and implement strategies for tracking and encouraging new detention practices, with special emphasis on providing nuts-and-bolts technical assistance to frontline defenders.

The IL JIDAN team continues to expand its representation of juveniles (and former juveniles) eligible to petition for removal from the state’s sex offender registry and has developed standard intake, screening and case task documents in order to share lessons learned across cases and with an eye toward creating a practice template that could be exported to other agencies to support pro bono work in this area.

The Louisiana JIDAN team was instrumental in assisting the passing of draft language for a bill ensuring that all youth in Louisiana are provided with counsel at the earliest stages of delinquency proceedings in the state.

The bill language recommended by the Children's Code Committee, which includes four JIDAN team members, to the Law Institute creates a presumption of indigence for all children in Louisiana and appoints a public defender for every child admitted to any detention center upon admission.

The bill will be submitted to the Louisiana Legislature for final approval.

With JIDAN’s assistance, Massachusetts is developing an innovative web-based case management system, Transformational Representation Information System (TRIS), to enhance communication among the multidisciplinary legal team as well as collect demographic data about clients and document the functioning (processes, outputs, and outcomes) of the team. The system will enable the defenders to measure their day-to-day activities and allow the team members to enter data and view all parts of the client file.

The New Jersey team scored a significant victory in In the Interest of P.M.P., a case which affirmed the filing of the complaint and obtaining of a judicially approved arrest warrant was a critical stage in the proceedings and the defendant had the right to counsel and could not waive that right “except in the presence of and after consultation with counsel.” This is particularly significant as it provides for early access to counsel at the initial detention hearing.

The Pennsylvania team has been active this year in developing and implementing standardized indigence determinations, a quick reference appellate guide and a collateral consequences checklist for defenders, identifying strategic issues ripe for appeal, as well as creating model expungement and sealing protocols and mentoring and training defenders.

Development of a statewide resource center is also underway in Pennsylvania which will have primary statewide responsibility for handling direct appeals to higher courts for delinquency cases; developing and supervising a comprehensive training program for juvenile defenders and court appointed counsel on juvenile justice issues.

Access to counsel is the focus of the Washington JIDAN team’s efforts. The team is developing model colloquies for both attorneys and courts. Since each of Washington’s 39 counties negotiates individual contracts for indigent defense services, the team, along with several groups, is working on improving contracts for indigence defense services throughout the state. The contracts will include baseline performance and training requirements. The team also has a pilot project to monitor and implement a pilot project on the new waiver of counsel rule.


In addition to the four core Models for Change states, the Indigent Defense Action Network includes four other states selected for their commitment to reform. The eight juvenile indigent defense action network states are:

Frequently Asked Questions

For a list of frequently asked questions and answers about the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, please click here.

JIDAN in the News

The Case for Specialty Training
Florida Justices Ban Shackling

JIDAN Newsletter

September 2009 Newsletter
December 2009 Newsletter

For more information

The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network is coordinated by the National Juvenile Defender Center. The NJDC is a member of the Models for Change National Resource Bank and its mission is to ensure excellence in juvenile defense to promote justice for all children.

To learn more about the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network please contact Rey Cheatham Banks at 202.452.0010, ext. 107.

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