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.
- California, Santa Clara County Public Defender Office, December 2003
- District of Columbia, Public Defender Services, August 2008
- Idaho, Appellate Public Defender Office, June 2007
- Idaho, Trial-Level Adult & Juvenile Representation, January 2010
- Louisiana, 15th Judicial District (Acadia, Lafayette, and Vermilion Parishes), June 2010
- Louisiana, Avoyelles Parish Indigent Defense Services, March 2004
- Louisiana, Orleans Parish, September 2006
- Michigan, Trial-Level Indigent Defense Systems, June 2008
- Montana, Trial-Level Indigent Defense Systems, August 2004
- Nevada, Clark County Public Defender Office, March 2003
- New York, Trial-Level Public Representation Systems, October 2008
- Ohio, Hamilton County Indigent Defense Services, July 2008
- Pennsylvania, Venango County Public Defender Office, June 2002
And if you want to improve public defense services in your own jurisdiction, consider contacting NLADA's research & evaluation division to find out how.