U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

NCJRS Virtual Library

The Virtual Library houses over 235,000 criminal justice resources, including all known OJP works.
Click here to search the NCJRS Virtual Library

Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee on Indigent Defense Services Findings and Recommendations

NCJ Number
Marshall J. Hartman
Date Published
6 pages
This is the 1996 Final Report of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) on Indigent Defense Services, which was convened by the National Legal Aid and Defender Association (NLADA) under a grant from the U.S. Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance for the purpose of developing a plan for improving the quality and efficiency of criminal justice defense services for indigent defendants.
The NAC concluded that there is a nationwide crisis in the provision of defense services for indigent defendants. Noting that such services have been historically underfunded, the NAC concludes that the crisis has been exacerbated by the Federal Government's declared "war on drugs," which has a zero tolerance policy that promotes the criminalization of more behavior and Draconian penalties. The NAC members unanimously approved a guiding principle for its work. This principle affirms that a high quality and efficient indigent defense system is critical to the proper functioning of the American criminal justice system as a whole. Under this principle, NAC members reached a consensus on five national priority areas of critical need. The five areas are training; standards for indigent defense services; auditing and technical assistance; the use of social service and other interdisciplinary resources; and coalition building. Within each of these major areas, this report outlines the various subcategories of need that must be addressed in an overall plan that will enable the defense component of the criminal justice system to survive and compete with other components of the justice system that have been heavily resourced. The NAC then identified potential initiatives that could be further developed into grant projects that fulfill priority needs. Finally, the NAC identified existing programs that are effectively addressing specific concerns.