National Juvenile Defender Center

National Juvenile Defender Center

To promote justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense.

Statement of Beliefs

The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) believes that a strong juvenile defense delivery system is a vital mechanism for ensuring that:

  • All children in the justice system have ready and timely access to skilled, well-resourced, well-trained lawyers;
  • All children are afforded full protection of their constitutional, statutory, and human rights;
  • All children receive legal representation that is client centered, individualized, developmentally and age appropriate, and free of bias; and
  • All children have opportunities to attain their potential to become productive members of society.

For these reasons, NJDC believes that the juvenile defense bar must:

  • Enhance its skill, capacity, and commitment to professionalism;
  • Cultivate leadership to promote accountability and bring about reform in the juvenile justice system; and
  • Build collaborations, partnerships, and community involvement to advance the juvenile defense delivery system.
Vision Statement

NJDC works to create a strong juvenile defense delivery system where:

  • The representation of children is specialized and resources and opportunities exist for juvenile defenders to fully exercise and enhance their legal, management, leadership, and advocacy skills;
  • All children are treated with respect, dignity, and fairness;
  • Juvenile courts are knowledgeable, sensitive, and responsive to the needs of children;
  • Juvenile defenders have parity of resources, compensation, and opportunity for advancement with adult defenders and prosecutors; and
  • Excellence is routine.

NJDC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense. Through community building, training, and policy reform, we provide national leadership on juvenile defense issues with a focus on curbing the deprivation of young people’s rights in the court system. Our reach extends to urban, suburban, rural, and tribal areas, where we elevate the voices of youth, families, and defenders to create positive case outcomes and meaningful opportunities for children. We also work with broad coalitions to ensure that the reform of juvenile courts includes the protection of children’s rights — particularly the right to counsel.