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Early Representation in Public Defender Programs - Test Design

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 1981
44 pages
This document outlines specific program requirements, site selection criteria, and an evaluation design for a field test of early representation by defense counsel.
This test design document forms the basis for a National Institute of Justice-sponsored field test. Field tests determine the effectiveness of the elements and strategies outlined in the design in various settings and examine their applicability to other jurisdictions. Based on a review of the national standards, the available literature, and field experience, NIJ has developed a composite of the best approaches in the field, to be implemented in three public defenders' offices. The goals of the early representation field test are to (1) establish management policies which broaden the range of services provided to the public defender's client; (2) improve the attorney-client relationship; and (3) improve efficiency, effectiveness, and cooperation in the criminal justice system. Key elements of the field test include developing procedures for contacting clients within 24 hours of arrest; obtaining a provisional indigency determination; initiating early investigation; and eliciting cooperation of law enforcement, prosecution, courts, and other service providers. In addition, the report delineates a two-level evaluation design for determining the degree to which the field test was successful: a process evaluation, to document the degree to which the early representaion program was implemented as planned; and an outcome evaluation, to assess the impact of early representation services as compared to the present method of providing defender services to indigent clients. The implementation of the test effort within public defender offices in three different States and the extent of NIJ support are outlined. Both mandatory and desirable criteria for site selection are specified. Fourteen footnotes and charts are included. Two appendixes contain a compendium of national standards and research findings relating to early representation.

Date Published: January 1, 1981