Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Public Defender Helps Improve System for Indigent Youth

              NEWS RELEASE


                                             Contact:  Judy Hammond, Director of Public Affairs, (213) 974-1363

        Brian Lew, Assistant Director, (213) 974-1652  


        Robert Kalunian, Chief Deputy Public Defender, (213) 974-7060


                                                                          Aug. 27, 2008


Public Defender to Work on National Effort to Improve Legal System for Indigent Youth



The Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office has been chosen to participate in a select national effort to improve the legal system for indigent youth.


A six-agency California team which includes the Public Defender’s Office is one of four selected to become members of the new Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network, which will have its inaugural meeting Oct. 2-3 in Washington, D.C.


The four – representing California, Florida, Massachusetts and New Jersey –will join Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania and Washington as so-called “Models for Change” states to develop innovative solutions and strategies to strengthen and enhance juvenile indigent defense systems.


The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is investing $100 million in Models for Change to support and accelerate promising models of juvenile justice reform to ensure young people receive the legal protections to which they are constitutionally entitled.


The Los Angeles County Public Defender’s Office is partnering with the Youth Law Center; the San Francisco Public Defender; the Center for Children, Families and the Courts of the Administrative Office of the Courts; the Loyola Law School Center for Juvenile Law and Policy, and the Human Rights Watch.


Under the leadership of Michael P. Judge, the Public Defender’s Office is widely recognized for its strong role in providing holistic legal advocacy at both the pre-trial and post-dispositional stages of juvenile delinquency court proceedings, and effectively advocating for the psycho-social needs of children in such areas as mental health, substance abuse, developmental disability, special education and employment.


The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network will actively engage juvenile defenders, policymakers, judges and other decision makers in designing proactive juvenile justice strategies, implementing reforms, creating opportunities for leadership, and devising concrete, measurable strategies to improve juvenile indigent defense systems at the local, state and national levels.


In its notification letter, the MacArthur Foundation said the California group had been selected because it demonstrated the commitment to improve the juvenile indigent defense policy and practice, the ability to bring together critical decision makers and stakeholders on its team, and the readiness to work with other Network members to help implement change within the state and provide leadership to other states in the nation.


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