Missouri-Justice Rationed: An Assessment of Access to Counsel and Quality of Juvenile Defense Representation in Delinquency Proceedings (2013)

While Missouri stands out for its innovation in providing small, regionalized juvenile corrections programs, an effective juvenile justice system is not built solely upon the corrections options available to youth after they have navigated their way through a complex legal process. An effective juvenile justice system must encompass the foundational elements of fundamental fairness and due process. The system must include legal advocacy and zealous representation by competent and well-trained attorneys who uphold the rights of children at all critical stages. The 1967 United States Supreme Court decision In re Gault extended the principles of due process to delinquency proceedings. It held that accused youth facing the awesome prospect of incarceration have the right to counsel. Due process is violated when children’s legal interests are not protected.

This assessment is designed to provide policy makers and juvenile defense leaders with relevant baseline information about whether youth have timely and meaningful access to qualified counsel in delinquency proceedings, identify systemic barriers to quality representation, highlight best practices, and provide recommendations and implementation strategies for improving Missouri’s juvenile indigent defense delivery system.

File Type: pdf
Categories: Assessment, Gault Center Publications, Resource Library
Tags: Access to Counsel, Quality of Representation, Youth Defense Systems