Promoting justice for all children

Teaming Up for Youth

New England Patriot Devin McCourty and Players Coalition team up with the National Juvenile Defender Center to raise awareness that far too many young people in juvenile court don’t ever get lawyers. Watch the video.

Confined Without Cause

It is well-established U.S. Supreme Court precedent that adults must receive a probable cause determination within 48 hours of arrest, but states do not uniformly apply that 48-hour rule to youth. Confined Without Cause: The Constitutional Right to Prompt Probable Cause Determinations for Youth discusses the harms caused when young people are held in detention and presents the argument that children must, at a minimum, receive a probable cause determination within 48 hours. Indeed, the issue brief argues, children’s unique considerations under the Constitution may demand immediate probable cause determinations

Online Resource Helps Youth Access Record Clearance Information

The Clean Slate Clearinghouse, developed in collaboration with NJDC and the Council of State Governments Justice Center, Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, the National Association of Counties, and the National League of Cities, provides access to state statutory information related to record clearance policies in all 50 states and U.S. territories.

In re Gault Research Collection

In collaboration with the Georgetown Law Equal Justice Library, NJDC launched the In re Gault research collection, including the Gault footnote bibliography project, reports and training materials on children’s right to counsel, audio-visual material of the Gault family and decision coverage, and court documents that trace the case’s evolution from Gila County, Arizona, to the nation’s highest court. Visit the collection here.

In re Gault

Fifty years ago, the United States Supreme Court affirmed that youth in America’s juvenile courts are entitled to many of the same rights as adults, including the right to counsel, the right to notice of the charges against them, the right against self-incrimination, and the right to confront their accusers. This printed version of the case highlights some of the decision’s most important points.

Broken Contracts

Though juvenile courts process more than 850,000 juvenile delinquency cases every year, no comprehensive data exists regarding how many young people are represented by public defenders or contract, appointed, or assigned counsel. While talented lawyers practice in each type of defense system, the resources and quality of representation can vary greatly. This report and toolkit examine ways to create greater support for and standardization of juvenile defense contract counsel systems to help strengthen young people’s voices and rights in the legal system.

Ensuring Access: A Policy Advocacy Toolkit

Cover shot of "Ensuring Access" showing a youth person and an adult looking at something together

Ensuring Access is a toolkit designed to help defenders, advocates, state legislators, and other policymakers who want to change their local laws and court rules to ensure children have the access to counsel they are guaranteed under the Constitution. The Toolkit incorporates the five issue areas and related recommendations from Access Denied and provides advocates and policymakers with example statutes and rules from across the country, research supporting policy reform, and sample messaging documents to support reform efforts.

New Tool to Support Defenders Advocating for Immigrant Youth

Although a finding of delinquency is not a “conviction” for purposes of immigration, a juvenile arrest, charge, or adjudication may nonetheless lead to consequences for young people that defenders must be aware of — and prepared to work to prevent. Read the full issue brief, including practice tips, key strategies for building a defense, and opportunities to secure relief for youth who are non-citizens.


NJDC Releases Judicial Bench Cards on SOGIE Advocacy and Adolescent Development

In partnership with the National Council of Juvenile and Family Judges and the State Justice Institute, NJDC published two bench cards: one to ensure fair and just treatment for LGBTQ-GNC people in juvenile court, and one promoting a judicial understanding of adolescent development in delinquency proceedings.xx

National Juvenile Defender Center 

NJDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense. Through community building, training, and policy reform, we provide national leadership on juvenile defense issues with a focus on curbing the deprivation of young people’s rights in the court system. Our reach extends to urban, suburban, rural, and tribal areas, where we elevate the voices of youth, families, and defenders to create positive case outcomes and meaningful opportunities for children. We also work with broad coalitions to ensure that the reform of juvenile courts includes the protection of children’s rights — particularly the right to counsel.

Access Denied: A National Snapshot of States’ Failure to Protect Children’s Right to Counsel

Released on the 50th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision In re Gault, NJDC’s new report reveals that nearly every state falls short of its constitutional obligation to provide effective lawyers for youth. Based on statutory analysis and interviews with juvenile defenders in every state, the Snapshot exposes gaps in procedural protections for children — gaps that perpetuate the over-criminalization of youth, racial and economic disparities, and the fracturing of families and communities. Learn more here.



A New Kind of Training

Developing a specialization in juvenile defense through new and innovative training programs that can be tailored for any jurisdiction.

JTIP Small Group

Read All About It

Check out NJDC’s array of free publications — infographics, issue briefs, and bench cards, among others — to share best-practices in juvenile defense and promote leadership and change at the local level.