Announcing a New Project

The Fiscal Impacts of Early Appointment of Counsel: A Cost-Benefit Analysis 

While research indicates that defendants who have assigned counsel at first appearance have a higher likelihood of improved case outcomes than those who do not, the financial effects are empirically unknown. To fill this gap, the Justice Programs Office (JPO), a center at the American University School of Public Affairs, in partnership with MW Consulting and the Urban Institute are conducting a cost-benefit analysis of early appointment of counsel. Assessing both the impact to client outcomes and taxpayer dollars, this study is one of the first of its kind and will complement previous client-outcome studies. The study will produce a cost-benefit-analysis tool that jurisdictions can use to estimate their cost savings given their unique environments. For more information, contact Right to Counsel Project Director Genevieve Citrin Ray at

Visit the "Resources" Page to Find Public Defense Legislative Tracking

R2C's latest resource is public defense legislative tracking from NACDL's State Criminal Justice Network! Take a look at pending state legislation relating to public defense in states across the U.S. Visit here or navigate to the "Resources" page under the "Online Resources" tab to find this exciting tool. 

New Report: Engaging System Actors in Support of the Right to Counsel

The Right to Counsel National Campaign, led by the Justice Programs Office (JPO) at American University, is excited to release a new report, Engaging System Actors in Support of the Right to Counsel, in coordination with the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the National Legal Aid & Defender Association. The report presents findings from a series of six roundtable discussions with key criminal justice system actors: from court administrators, state prosecutors, the law enforcement community, representatives from state administering agencies, county officials, and judges. The roundtables were held to determine perceptions of the effectiveness of public defense delivery systems, the most pressing challenges, possible solutions to improving public defense, and what role they can play in advancing improvements and ensuring the constitutional right to counsel. Check it out here!

New Project: Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure Effective Assistance of Counsel

The Justice Programs Office (JPO) at American University is excited to announce a collaborative project, Enhancing Caseflow Management to Ensure Effective Assistance of Counsel , supported by the State Justice Institute (SJI) . As part of the ongoing work of the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Campaign and in partnership with the National Association for Court Management (NACM) and theNational Association of Presiding Judges and Court Executive Officers (NAPCO) , JPO will convene a multidisciplinary group of court practitioners and national experts to discuss practical strategies to enhance caseflow management with emphasis on effective assistance of counsel. As a result of this convening, the group will produce a management document for court practitioners nationwide with a set of recommendations. Read more here.

For more information, please contact Senior Policy Advisor Genevieve Citrin Ray at

Third Annual Meeting Highlights and Final Report

The Right to Counsel National Campaign (R2C) held its third annual meeting on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at the Office of Justice Programs in Washington, D.C. Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein stated in his keynote remarks, "Protecting the right to counsel is a fundamental component of preserving the rule of law and ensuring equal access to justice," and went on to reflect that, "Being a criminal defender can be a thankless job [...] It means struggling to mount the best defense possible in the face of great adversity. But, as our nation’s founders knew, this role is essential to safeguarding justice."

The public defender role is essential to safeguarding justice, and everyone has a role to play in making the change the criminal justice system needs to ensure public defenders are able to fulfill their duty effectively. The rest of the meeting was structured around highlighting the unique role each stakeholder in addition to public defenders can play in securing the right to counsel.

A full report on the meeting is here. And check out a video of the meeting's highlights below.



The Right to Counsel National Campaign

The Right to Counsel National Campaign (R2C) is a public awareness initiative that uses value-based communication tactics to inform policymakers, criminal justice stakeholders, and the public about the importance of carrying out the Sixth Amendment’s right to counsel, the ways in which this right is not being implemented, the roles everyone from law enforcement officers to prosecutors to judges and court managers can play in ensuring that the constitutional right to counsel is upheld, and how to reform the public defense system with low-cost or no-cost policy solutions. R2C also seeks to elevate the defender voice in criminal justice reform conversations and provides new opportunities for citizens to become engaged advocates, ensuring effective public defense delivery systems in all courts across the country.

R2C's vision is a fair and equitable criminal justice system, which requires representation by skilled defense counsel with adequate resources at every stage of the criminal justice process.

The campaign is spearheaded by a consortium of national, state, and local criminal justice stakeholders, community advocates, and policymakers who are committed to ensuring the fulfillment of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and the effective delivery of public defense services. 


New Report Reveals Need to Educate Americans on 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, director of AU’s Justice Programs Office, which houses the Right to Counsel National Campaign.

Read more here, and read the report here.

On March 16, R2C released a report on the need to educate Americans on the Constitutional right to counsel.

Visit the "Online Resources" Tab to Find the Latest Right to Counsel Resources

The Right to Counsel National Campaign Resource page provides information on public defense-related reform efforts as well as overall criminal justice reform underway. It also provides links to Department of Justice publications pertaining to public defense and National standards and guidelines that can provide state and local jurisdictions with tools when considering potential areas for improvement of public defense delivery systems. This page is continually updated to include the most up-to-date reports, webpages, letters, news outlets, videos, and much more.

The most recently updated resources are to the left, and include: the National Association for Public Defense's 2017 Annual Report Insisting, Resisting, Persisting; two reports from the Sixth Amendment Center, The Right to Counsel in Mississippi and The Right to Counsel in Indiana: Evaluation of Trial Level Indigent Defense Services; and three reports released by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers: Judicial Responsibility for Justice in Criminal Courts, The Rhode Island Project: A Study of the Rhode Island Public Defender System and Attorney Workload Standards, and State of Crisis: Chronic Neglect and Underfunding for Louisiana's Public Defense System.

NACDL Presents: The Right to Counsel

A thought-provoking presentation on the importance of the 6th Amendment and the #right2counsel (Directed by Koichi Take | 1:57 Pictures; Produced by NACDL Staff; Made possible by The Foundation for Criminal Justice).

Theory of Change

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