Special Initiative: Tribal Youth

The Special Initiative uses the term “tribal youth,” which refers to American Indian and Alaska Native youth. Although decisions of the United States Supreme Court that afford a constitutional right to counsel for youth are not binding on tribal nations, these decisions provide persuasive and compelling arguments  for the importance of legal representation for all juveniles, including tribal youth. Zealous representation by defense counsel is especially important because tribal youth are disproportionally exposed to crime and violence and have an exceptional degree of unmet needs for service and support to prevent and respond to the levels of violence they experience.

As part of the ongoing work of the Special Initiative, NJDC testified in February 2014 before the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee on American Indian/Alaska Native Children Exposed to Violence.

NJDC looks forward to expanding innovative Juvenile Immersion Program Training (JTIP) to defenders in tribal areas, and will be developing a series of tools and materials to assist defenders in remote and underserved areas. In addition, NJDC looks forward to collaboratively engaging national experts and key stakeholders to develop strategies to strengthen due process for tribal youth.

Please stay posted for specific recommendations generated by experts and stakeholders across the country to formulate innovative ideas and strategies for juvenile defenders no how to provide zealous representation to tribal youth.