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  • Core Principles

    1. We believe in equal justice for all youth in conflict with the law.


    2. We believe in the dignity of the individual and that life and liberty are precious.


    3. We believe that poor, minority, and LGBTQ youth are disproportionately represented in the delinquency and criminal justice system, and that effective representation can change outcomes.


    4. We believe that many children find themselves caught up in the juvenile justice system due to a lack of adequate community resources and as a result of factors beyond their control, including: mental health, disability, substance abuse, foster care, and exposure to trauma.


    5. We believe that all youth are entitled to client centered, expressed interest advocacy.


    6. We believe that a well resourced, supportive juvenile defender community results in effective, vigorous representation.


    7. We believe that innocent people are convicted of crimes and that zealous advocacy can make a difference.


    8. We believe that notice of the charges, the right to counsel, the right to confrontation and cross-examination, the privilege against self-incrimination, the right to a transcript of the proceedings, and the right to appellate review, provided by In Re Gault, 87 S. Ct. 1428, 1435 (1967), are minimum due process rights to which all youth are entitled.


    9. We believe that “youth is more than a chronological fact, it is a time of immaturity, irresponsibility, impetuousness, and recklessness,” Miller v. Alabama, 132 S. Ct. 2455, 2468 (2012), and that this fact should be taken into account at every stage of the juvenile justice system, from charging decisions to sentencing, because children are categorically less culpable and more amenable to rehabilitation.



    10. We believe that when juvenile defenders vigorously fight for youth, they are defending us, our families, our communities, and a free society.