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BJA’s Sixth Amendment Initiative: Strengthening the Constitutional Protections of the Accused

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2021
30 pages

After describing the rationale for and features of the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA’s) Sixth Amendment Initiative, this report reviews the progress made by and lessons learned from the 10 sites participating in the Sixth Amendment Initiative.


The Sixth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution specifies the rights of all persons accused of crimes. These are the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury; to know the nature of the accusation; to confront and call witnesses; and to have the assistance of a lawyer. BJA’s Sixth Amendment Initiative is a federal effort to improve the capacity of state and local governments to implement for all their residents the rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. In 2017, BJA awarded funding to three agencies for the purpose of providing training and technical assistance (TTA) to sites across the country that will enable them to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of their compliance with rights guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment. A competitive application process was developed for site selection to participate in the Sixth Amendment Initiative. This report focuses on the TTA efforts for the 10 sites currently participating in the Sixth Amendment Initiative. The TTA has been implemented in the following four phases: 1) initial planning and needs assessment; 2) site visit for the development of a report on strengths, challenges, and recommendations; 3) implementing the strategic plan; and 4) planning for sustaining improvements in Sixth Amendment compliance. Progress made, lessons learned, and recommendations from the 10 sites are reported for access to counsel, effective representation, research and data capacity, and sustainability. Site summaries are appended.

Date Published: January 1, 2021