Raising the Standards of Juvenile Indigents Defense

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.