The National Juvenile Defender Center has released the report Defend Children: A Blueprint for Effective Juvenile Defender Services that details how children are routinely denied access to lawyers, or receive representation so ineffective as to provide almost no protection. Despite having a right to counsel in delinquency cases, too often children are arrested, prosecuted and incarcerated with no lawyer. Children of color tend to be disproportionately affected by a lack of counsel. This report is informed by thousands of hours of juvenile court observation, assessments of state juvenile defense systems that measure access to and quality of children's legal representation, and invaluable observations and expertise from our community of defenders, researchers, and advocates. The Blueprint contains proposed solutions to this crisis and innovative, best practice models that can be replicated to improve children's access to justice.
Cathy Krebs is the committee manager for the ABA Section of Litigation's Children's Rights Litigation Committee in Washington, D.C. She is also the newsletter editor for the committee.
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