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Juvenile indigent defense

Meaningful access to legal counsel for all youth

Young people in trouble with the law have a right to legal counsel, but they frequently don’t get the timely or adequate representation they need. Many youth waive their constitutional right to counsel and accept plea offers without fully understanding their actions. Too often, even those who do have lawyers are inadequately represented, because of defenders’ high caseloads, inexperience, and lack of training and resources.

In each of the four core states, Models for Change is working to improve access to and quality of counsel for every young person who enters the juvenile justice system. Statewide assessments of the juvenile indigent defense systems in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Louisiana, and Washington have already been conducted, and technical assistance and trainings have been offered. The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network is working to support and spread efforts to improve juvenile defense policy and practice in the core states and four additional partner states.

Through assessments, training and technical support, Models for Change promotes meaningful access for legal counsel for all youth.

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

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