The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is pleased to announce the release of its most recent assessment, Undervalued: An Assessment of Access to and Quality of Juvenile Defense Counsel in New Hampshire. It is a thorough examination of New Hampshire’s juvenile defense delivery system.
The report was featured in New Hampshire’s largest paper, the Union Leader, and represents the culmination of an 18-month process of research, site visits, data analysis, writing, editing, and stakeholder outreach.
The assessment found that an absence of dedicated juvenile defense practitioners in New Hampshire leads to many youth waiving their rights and facing long-term consequences. Nearly every aspect of the defense system is set up to devalue juvenile delinquency cases, often leading to youth receiving constitutionally deficient counsel.
This report is the 26th state assessment NJDC has released. Every previous NJDC assessment report has spurred reforms in states juvenile defense systems. The NJDC encourages the New Hampshire Judiciary to consider:
- Implementing a strong, well-resourced, specialized system of juvenile defense.
- Establishing and supporting juvenile defense leadership and requiring specialization in juvenile defense.
- Establishing state standards for juvenile defense attorney qualifications and performance.
- Automatically appointing counsel for all youth prior to their first court appearance and ensuring youth are represented throughout their involvement in the juvenile legal system.
All NJDC’s state assessments can be found online.