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What is the purpose of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network?

The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN) seeks to promote change that strengthens and enhances juvenile indigent defense systems by actively engaging juvenile defenders, policymakers, judges, and other decision makers in designing strategies that will improve juvenile indigent defense policy and practice. The vision for reform is to create a model juvenile indigent defense system that ensures the protection of youths’ due process rights throughout the duration of the juvenile court process. In this system, youth have early and timely access to competent, well-trained, and well-resourced counsel, and juvenile defenders have the ability and capacity to provide comprehensive and thorough legal representation to the children they serve.

How will the Network undertake this work?

Network participants will organize into two “Strategic Innovations Groups” known as SIGs. These groups will undertake concerted reform efforts (strategic innovations) on specific issue areas that will lead to measurable outcomes to improve juvenile indigent defense system policies or practices. The network has chosen to focus on two important strategic innovation areas:

  1. Access to counsel: The first group will work to ensure that youth have timely access to counsel throughout the duration of the juvenile court process, with a particular focus on early appointment, post-disposition representation, and increased defender competence and oversight through the development of standards and practice guidelines.
  2. Resource centers: The second group, focused on the creation of state, local or regional juvenile defender resource centers, presents an opportunity to provide leadership, capacity building, support, and mentoring to juvenile defenders, and to promulgate policies and practices that advocate for a holistic and zealous approach to juvenile defense.

What states belong to the action network?

California, Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts were selected through an open application process in 2008 to join the four existing Models for Change core states, Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington, to make up the eight-state Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network.

Who will coordinate the work of the network?

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) coordinates The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network. NJDC is a member of the Models for Change National Resource Bank and its mission is to ensure excellence in juvenile defense and to promote justice for all children.

If I'm not involved directly as a member of the action network, how can I/my organization/my state or local jurisdiction get involved in working on juvenile indigent defense?

Contact Rey Cheatham Banks, Senior Policy and Communications Associate at the National Juvenile Defender Center, at (202) 452-0010 ext. 107 to discuss how to get involved and resources that may be available to those beyond the network.

Supported by

Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.