Special Initiative: Rural, Remote, and Underserved Areas
Defining what it means to be a “rural” defender is no easy task: what “rural” looks like in rural California is different than what rural looks like in rural Nebraska, which is different than what rural looks like in rural Mississippi. NJDC’s foundational work on juvenile indigent defense issues in rural, remote and underserved areas has identified many issues, for example:
- The substantial role for contract/conflict counsel;
- Funding is often streamed to urban areas, and innovations that work in urban areas may not work in rural areas;
- Juvenile defenders have limited access to specialized training;
- Juvenile defenders feel disconnected from the broader juvenile defense community; and
- Communities lack resources (e.g., experts, mental health and social services, alternatives to detention).
This foundational work has also identified many questions, for example
- How should capacity building and infrastructure be approached for legal services in rural communities?
- How do we reach young clients and educate them about their rights?
- How do we promote homegrown juvenile defender leadership in rural communities?
- How do we increase the flow of resources to rural communities?
- How do we deal with close knit communities/cronyism?
As the work of the Special Initiative moves ahead, NJDC looks forward to engaging national experts and stakeholders, along with defenders practicing in rural areas, to strategize about the best way to address the many and varied issues faced by juvenile defenders who represent youth in the most rural, remote, and unserved areas in this country.
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 youth in rural, remote, and underserved areas.