Improving Legal Representation for Indigent Youth
December 9, 2008 | Press release | Juvenile Justice

Four states have been selected in a competitive process by MacArthur to participate in the new Models for Change Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network (JIDAN). Sites in California, Florida, Massachusetts, and New Jersey will receive up to $100,000 each in initial funding to strengthen and enhance juvenile indigent defense systems. They join the four core Models for Change states — Illinois, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, and Washington — to form an eight-state Network.

“The lack of adequate representation for indigent youth is a key barrier to developing fair and effective juvenile justice systems,” said MacArthur President Jonathan Fanton. “This new action network will help accelerate the pace of change by ensuring that juveniles receive the legal protections to which they are constitutionally entitled. With innovative leadership in the four states selected, the Network will help reshape juvenile justice systems across the United States to improve the lives of young people while making communities safer and stronger.”

Models for Change is MacArthur’s $120 million national initiative to reform juvenile justice across the country. Seeking to accelerate progress toward a more rational, fair, effective, and developmentally appropriate juvenile justice system, the goal of Models for Change is to create successful and replicable models of juvenile justice system reform through targeted investment in key states. Sixteen states are now involved – four core states that are working on comprehensive reform, and 12 other states as part of three action networks focusing on disproportionate minority contact, mental health, and now, juvenile indigent defense.

The JIDAN Network will focus on ensuring that youth have timely access to counsel throughout the duration of the juvenile court process and develop defender resource centers to build professionalism in the field. A key criterion for selecting these four new states was that they had already undertaken demonstrable steps towards addressing juvenile indigent defense issues.

The Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network will be coordinated through the National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC), an organization based in Washington, D.C. whose mission is to ensure excellence in juvenile defense. States, local jurisdictions or organizations interested in applying to become members of the Juvenile Indigent Defense Action Network should contact the National Juvenile Defender Center at 202.452.0010 or visit the website at


Read FAQ about the new action network (PDF)

View Models for Change states

View Models for Change action networks

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