The mission of the National Juvenile Defender Center is to promote justice for all children by ensuring excellence in juvenile defense. For a child, access to justice at its very core requires access to counsel. The NJDC was founded to ensure that every child facing prosecution in juvenile court is represented by a specialized attorney trained to defend children. Fair and reasonable treatment of youth in delinquency courts is virtually impossible without the availability of specialized and highly skilled counsel advocating for the expressed legal interests of the child client. Nearly 50 years after the US Supreme Court proclaimed children have a constitutional right to counsel, too many youth enter into blind plea agreements without consulting an attorney and without having a complete picture of the lifelong, direct, and collateral impacts of juvenile court adjudications, including incarceration.

Read Huffington Post article Defending the Childhood of Brendan Dassey, written by Executive Directors Kim Dvorchak of NJDC and Jody Kent Lavy of The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth.

Photo: Courtesy the MacArthur Foundation