From the Administrator

In a century of service marked by exceptional achievements, one of the most significant contributions to the welfare of our youth made by the juvenile justice system has been to further the right of every young person in the system to due process under the law. For too many years, fundamental constitutional protections had been largely denied children, at times compromising the mission of the juvenile justice system as an impartial instrument of justice, as documented in In re Gault (1967).

A key area in which due process is required by Gault is the right to counsel. While progress has been made in improving the availability and quality of legal counsel afforded youth in delinquency proceedings in the three decades since Gault, much remains to be done -- as the American Bar Association (ABA) report, A Call for Justice: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Representation in Delinquency Proceedings, documents.

Juvenile defendants need -- and are entitled to -- effective legal representation. This Bulletin describes ABA/OJJDP collaboration to further that goal and features informative examples of promising approaches to ensuring quality legal services for youth. The programs it features are helping to turn the promise of Gault into reality for our Nation's youth.

Shay Bilchik

Innovative Approaches to Juvenile Indigent Defense Juvenile Justice Bulletin   ·  December 1998