Public Defense Is Integral to a Fair and Equitable Justice System for All. 


Stakeholder Engagement Report

October 2020

The Justice Programs Office and the Right to Counsel National Campaign are pleased to announce the release of a new report that highlights how criminal justice reforms can and should incorporate the voices of public defenders, seeking to elevate the criminal justice reform conversation. Working together, criminal justice stakeholders can effectuate change and implement sustainable reforms. This document identifies pressure points in the justice system where we can make real change regarding the state of public defense systems and create a strategic plan for engagement, building on the Right to Counsel National Campaign’s existing theory of change. While investment in direct public defense reforms is critically important, investing in and involving public defense providers in systemic reform efforts, such as the ones detailed in this report, are essential for comprehensive, sustainable system change. We then hope to show how defense, instead of being an obstacle to reform or a separate component of the criminal justice system, can be a solution for many criminal justice challenges.

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Seeking to elevate the defender voice in criminal justice reform conversations.

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Women Helped Shape Public Defense — and Now Need It More Than Ever

March 2020

March is Women’s History Month and March 18th is Gideon’s Day, the 57th anniversary of the landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright that solidified the right to counsel for individuals whose liberty is at stake and who cannot afford an attorney. These commemorations have more in common than first meets the eye…

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A Vital Takeaway from 2019: Collaboration May Be Our Strongest Tool

December 2019

As 2019 comes to a close, we reflect on the year’s accomplishments. 2019 is my first year working at the Justice Programs Office and on the Right to Counsel National Campaign (R2C), and I’ve been surprised by the level of collaboration I see between criminal justice stakeholders on the issue of the right to counsel. 

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New Year Brings Continued Commitment to the Constitution

January 2020

A new year provides the opportunity to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. Each year, a central theme emerges in my New Year’s resolution: be present. Show up; assume the best of each other; focus on where you are; remember the dignity of every person.

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Public Defenders are Heroes

october 2019

Public defenders are heroes. That message rang loud and clear throughout the third annual Smart on Crime Innovations Conference.

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Americans’ Views on Public Defenders and the Right to Counsel

The right to an attorney in a criminal case hails from the United States Constitution; however, according to a new report, “Americans’ Views on Public Defenders and the Right to Counsel,” this is not a wide known fact. Released on March 16, 2017 by the Right to Counsel National Campaign at American University’s School of Public Affairs, the report outlines the results of a year-long opinion study focused on how well Americans understand public defense and their right to counsel.

“This report reveals a clear need for public education about the constitutional right to counsel, the realities of the state of public defense on the ground, and the public and government support necessary to ensure that this fundamental right is upheld,’ said Kim Ball, former director of AU’s Justice Programs Office, which houses the Right to Counsel National Campaign.

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