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Innovation Brief: Raising the Standards of Juvenile Indigent Defense

Published Dec 1, 2011, Juvenile Law Center

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Pennsylvania’s county-based approach to juvenile defense created a patchwork system in which children in some counties received excellent representation while those in other locations did not, often resulting in inappropriate dispositions and harmful outcomes. The Juvenile Defenders Association of Pennsylvania was established to promote improvements in indigent juvenile defense, and made several important innovations. The organization developed a set of recommendations for reform (some of which have been adopted as new Rules of Juvenile Court Procedure and recommended legislation), produced guidelines and a training manual for juvenile defense attorneys, expanded training programs to reach defenders across the state, created a model expungement protocol, and is helping to develop model juvenile defense units in diverse counties.

This brief is one in a series describing new knowledge and innovations emerging from Models for Change, a multi-state juvenile justice initiative. Models for Change is accelerating movement toward a more effective, fair, and developmentally sound juvenile justice system by creating replicable models that protect community safety, use resources wisely, and improve outcomes for youths. The briefs are intended to inform professionals in juvenile justice and related fields, and to contribute to a new national wave of juvenile justice reform.

Supported by

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