A cornerstone of the National Juvenile Defender Center’s work is to understand how juvenile defense is delivered around the country and to support excellence in the provision of those services. As part of that work, NJDC conducts state-specific assessments of youth access to, and the quality of, juvenile defense counsel when they come in contact with the delinquency system.
The assessments provide comprehensive examinations of the systemic and institutional barriers that prevent children from receiving high-quality legal representation. In addition to gathering general data and information about the structure of the juvenile 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 areas where challenges are identified.
These reports are part of a nationwide effort to improve juvenile 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.
Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia,