Juvenile Indigent Defense Special Initiative
The Juvenile Indigent Defense Special Initiative (Special Initiative) is a collaborative project between the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) and the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) to create a roadmap to fully develop the juvenile indigent defense field across the country.
To inform the work of the Special Initiative, NJDC is engaging national juvenile defense experts and other key stakeholders in a series of structured dialogues to examine juvenile indigent defense, assess the gaps and barriers in the system, and formulate innovative strategies to overcome them. In addition to the broader discussion scrutinizing the efficacy of juvenile indigent defense systems, NJDC will study several topical areas with broad systemic implications including:
- racial and ethnic disparities;
- protections for youth in custody/Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA);
- lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender (LGBT) youth;
- tribal youth;
- the treatment of youth in the adult system; and
- youth in rural, remote, and underserved communities.
NJDC is also developing a research agenda with input from the juvenile defense community to enable OJJDP and other federal agencies to produce meaningful research aimed at supporting juvenile indigent defense reform efforts and improving outcomes for youth. Throughout the Special Initiative, NJDC will synthesize feedback from the juvenile defense experts and other stakeholders to produce periodic briefings on reform strategies directed at OJJDP and the federal government that also include proposed recommendations for NJDC and other juvenile defense organizations to advance reform efforts. NJDC will use the information gathered from the Special Initiative to advise DOJ on matters related to juvenile indigent defense and expand and enhance its innovative training and technical assistance programs for juvenile defenders.