Measuring the level of constitutional representation in America

All who work in public defense know there is a problem -- we call it the "indigent defense crisis."  In 2002, NLADA established the Justice Standards, Evaluation and Research Initiative (JSERI) in order to concretely evaluate the depth and breadth of both successes and difficulties in indigent defense representation throughout the country, providing a measurement of public defense services against national standards.  JSERI's protocol for evaluation of any system combines a review of the jurisdiction's budgetary, caseload, and organizational information with site visits to observe courtroom practice and interviews of all key criminal justice system stakeholders and policymakers.

Since its launch in 2002, JSERI has evaluated all types of indigent defense systems -- county & state, public defender offices & assigned counsel systems, trial & appellate services.  If you want to learn more than just anecdote about the ways in which and the reasons why America's criminal justice systems are failing to live up to our Constitutional promise, as well as where we are succeeding, spend a little time reading these reports.

And if you want to improve public defense services in your own jurisdiction, consider contacting NLADA's research & evaluation division to find out how.

Publication Date: 02/19/2010