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Juvenile Defense Attorneys: A Critical Protection Against Injustice - The Importance of Skilled Juvenile Defenders to Upholding the Due Process Rights of Youth

NCJ Number
Date Published
9 pages

This paper explores the challenges and offers insights into how juvenile justice systems can improve the ways they uphold the due process rights of youth.


This white paper from the National Juvenile Defenders Center, a member of the Models for Change Resource Center Partnership, details the role of the juvenile defender in the youth justice system. The defender's unique challenge is to be the advocate for the child in the juvenile justice system. To meet this challenge, and to be able to offer the court the expressed interests of the child, the juvenile defender must master a diverse set of skills to uphold core ethical obligations and to help clients navigate the complexities of the justice system. This paper offers juvenile defenders information from the growing body of developmental research and juvenile jurisprudence to equip them with the tools to enforce the client's due process rights; present the legal case with specific juvenile justice elements; promote accuracy in decision making; provide alternative dispositions for decision makers; and monitor institutional treatment, aftercare, and re-entry.