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Expert Working Group Report: International Perspectives on Indigent Defense

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2011
60 pages
This is a report on the meeting of a group of experts in January 2011 in order to discuss the international and domestic practice of criminal indigent defense and the research needed to improve it.
The 40-person Expert Working Group (EWG) consisted of leading experts from multidisciplinary communities, including domestic and international practitioners, researchers, government officials, and advocates from nine countries. During the meeting, the EWG considered the state of indigent defense in the United States, the costs of being indigent in the criminal justice system, improvements in defender services for the poor and for juveniles, the intersection of indigent defense and immigration, and indigent defense in indigenous communities. Based on shared information in the group, the EWG developed suggestions for Federal priorities for indigent defense, the identification of research in the field of indigent defense, alternative and best practices in defender services for the poor, the transferability of successful international practices to the United States, and the forging of sustained American and international collaboration in the field of criminal legal aid. This report presents an overview of the EWG's discussions, and it contains the breakout groups' recommendations following a summary of the corresponding panel presentation. The report provides the Federal Government and the indigent defense community with recommendations that can steer the direction of indigent defense research and potential reform strategies for years to come. An appendix summarizes the international practices identified in the workshop.

Date Published: September 1, 2011