OverviewProsecutors, judges, and court personnel are looking for new approaches to adjudicating offenders that will not only clear cases and decrease dockets, but also lower recidivism. Throughout the country, courts are recognizing that crimes involving violent and nonviolent offenders require a special effort to ensure that these offenders are held accountable, but returned to the community with the services and supervision they need to stop offending. Additionally, state and local prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges face the challenge of meeting increasing needs with limited resources. While local court personnel will decide how to meet those needs, BJA is committed to providing resources, tools, and support to help them test their ideas.
Wrongful Conviction On December 3, 2013, OJP, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Innocence Project announced the release of the National Summit on Wrongful Convictions: Building a Systemic Approach to Prevent Wrongful Convictions report. The National Policy Summit on Wrongful Convictions gathered 75 subject matter experts from all key disciplines to address and examine the causes of and solutions to wrongful convictions across the entire spectrum of the justice system. The summit report includes 30 recommendations for making rightful arrests, correcting wrongful arrests, leveraging technology and forensic science, and re-examining closed cases. This report lays a foundation for required changes in investigative protocols, policies, training, supervision, and assessment.
Right to Counsel (Indigent Defense)The U.S. Department of Justice established the Access to Justice Initiative (ATJ) in March 2010 to address the access-to-justice crisis in the criminal and civil justice system. ATJ’s mission is to help the justice system efficiently deliver outcomes that are fair and accessible to all, irrespective of wealth and status. The Initiative’s staff works within the Department of Justice (incluidng BJA), across federal agencies, and with state, local, and tribal justice system stakeholders to increase access to counsel and legal assistance and to improve the justice delivery systems that serve people who are unable to afford lawyers.
FY 2013 Funding: On October 30, 2013, Attorney General Holder announced a total of $6.7 million in grants to state and local criminal and civil legal services organizations across the country that provide legal defense services for the poor. These grants from OJP are part of the Justice Department’s continuing efforts to improve indigent defense, which is often underfunded and understaffed, and to support training, mentoring, technical assistance, leadership development, and research to enhance the effectiveness of adult, juvenile, and tribal indigent defense practices. Read the press release.
Current Efforts: Below are resources and activities BJA supports in the area of indigent defense:
The John R. Justice (JRJ) Program, a student loan repayment program administered by BJA for qualified public defenders and state prosecutors who agree to remain in their post for at least 3 years, helps defender offices recruit and retain lawyers who work to ensure the integrity of the criminal justice system. Over the last 3 years, the JRJ Program has reimbursed approximately $7 million toward student loans for state and local public defenders.
For another project, NACDL will replicate in three to five jurisdictions the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy's (DPA) success with its “Kentucky Pretrial Release Manual.” The Kentucky DPA widely distributed the maunal to the Kentucky defense bar, among others, in an effort to provide attorneys with the tools necessary to engage in effective bail advocacy. These efforts have achieved demonstrable results and have contributed to significant savings for Kentucky’s counties.
Evaluation Information and ToolsBJA’s Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Management maintains a user-friendly online evaluation and performance measurement tool designed to assist state and local criminal justice planners, practitioners, State Administrati ve Agencies, researchers, and evaluators in: 1) conducting evaluations and performance measurement that will address the effectiveness and efficiency of their projects and 2) using evaluation information to improve program planning and implementation. Visit the Center for Program Evaluation and Performance Management site to learn more.
ResearchThe National Institute of Justice (NIJ) — the research, development and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice — is dedicated to improving knowledge and understanding of crime and justice issues through science. NIJ provides objective and independent knowledge and tools to reduce crime and promote justice, particularly at the state and local levels. Access the NIJ site for further information and access to research materials. StatisticsOJP’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) collects, analyzes, publishes, and disseminates information on crime, criminal offenders, victims of crime, and the operation of justice systems at all levels of government. These data are critical to federal, state, and local policymakers in combating crime and ensuring that justice is both efficient and evenhanded. See the BJS site for access to data on a variety of topics.
TrainingThe Events section of the BJA site contains information about upcoming and ongoing trainings and other events related to courts and other justice topics.The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) offers training on the Principles of Forensic DNA for Officers of the Court. This is an online interactive resource tool to educate and assist prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges in forensic DNA cases. The course consists of 15 modules and covers:
BJA provides training and technical assistance support to the Community Prosecution grantees through the National Center for Community Prosecution and the Center for Court Innovation.The National Judicial College provides educational and professional development opportunities to more than 58,000 judges worldwide. BJA-sponsored courses include children as adults in court, bench skills for judges, health care and aging, disabilities and co-occurring disorders, and the role of families in the justice system.For information on all BJA-sponsored training and technical assistance, visit to BJA's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC).
Pretrial Research Summaries:
Bail Decisionmaking by Lindsey Devers, Ph.D., CSR, Incorporated
Identifying and Serving the Needs of Pretrial Defendants by Sean Goliday, Ph.D., CSR, Incorporated
Plea and Charge Bargaining by Lindsey Devers, Ph.D., CSR, Incorporated
Pretrial Risk Assessment by Charles Summers, Ph.D and Tim Willis, Ph.D., CSR, Incorporated
Pretrial Diversion Programs by Catherine Camilletti, Ph.D., CSR, Incorporated
For statistical information, go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) web site.
Pretrial Research Summaries:
For statistical information, go to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) web site.
On January 12, 2015, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen, Jr. (District of Columbia) announced the selection of two independent consultants who will provide guidance and outside expertise to the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s newly created Conviction Integrity Unit. The consultants are Jeffrey D. Robinson, Senior Counsel at Lewis Baach, and Kristine Hamann, a Visiting Fellow at BJA, who specializes in developing "Best Practices" programs for prosecutor's offices.
The Office of Justice Programs has released the FY 2015 Program Plan, in a new, easy-to-use format to help you find the appropriate funding sources for your initiatives. The criminal and juvenile justice fields have made significant progress over the last 3 years in instituting smart-on-crime practices and in applying science to crime-fighting. This year’s Plan preserves OJP’s overall programmatic priorities: supporting our state and local partners in fighting violent crime; promoting research and evidence-based approaches; expanding reentry; strengthening victim services; and supporting tribes.
The National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) has announced the open registration for the 2015 Adult, Veterans, and Tribal Drug Court Planning training. The open enrollment is now available and training will be made available on a first come-first serve basis for 10 Adult teams, 5 Tribal teams, and 30 Veteran teams. Visit NDCI.org/training for more information.
The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) has released "Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program, 2014," which describes steps used in the JAG formula calculation process to determine award amounts for states, local governments, and territories. The report presents summary results of the FY 2014 allocation amounts.
BJA is excited to release the recently updated BJA State and Territory Fact Sheets. The enhanced web site features updated state and territory statistics related to BJA investments, Byrne JAG Program highlights, crime trends, and other criminal justice information. In addition to the web site, each state has an easily accessible PDF version of the fact sheet and detailed funding information that can be used for distribution. BJA hopes these fact sheets will continue to be useful to criminal justice agencies, as they can easily obtain and reference criminal justice data across the nation for a variety of purposes.
BJA and the National American Indian Court Judges Association have just released "An Overview of the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Tribal Civil and Criminal Legal Assistance Program and Resources."
2015 Crime and Justice Summer Research Institute
National Native Media Conference
Symposium on Alcohol and Drug Impaired Driving Enforcement
Location: Clearwater Beach,
National District Attorneys Association (NDAA) Summit on Prosecution Integrity
Legal Challenges to Medical Testimony: Hearsay, Daubert and Other Critical Pretrial Motions (Webinar)
Location: 2:00-3:30 p.m. ET,
See More Events
Front-End Diversion Initiative
A preadjudication diversion program designed to divert juveniles with mental health needs away from the juvenile justice system through specialized supervision and case management.
Indigent Defense for Homicide Cases (Philadelphia, Penn.)
Indigent defense involves the constitutionally mandated free representation of individuals accused of crimes who are unable to afford private representation. Since 1993, every fifth murder case is sequentially assigned at the preliminary arraignment to be represented by attorneys from the Defender Association of Philadelphia.
Maine Juvenile Drug Treatment Courts
Court supervised, post-plea (but pre-final disposition) drug diversion programs that provide comprehensive community-based treatment services to juvenile offenders and their families.
Minneapolis Center for Victim-Offender Mediation
A restorative justice program that provides juvenile offenders and their victims the opportunity to meet face-to-face in the presence of a mediator to discuss the offense and establish a plan for the future.
Adolescent Diversion Project (Michigan State University)
A strengths-based, university-led program that diverts arrested youth from formal processing in the juvenile justice system and provides them with community-based services.
See More from
Center for Court Innovation
National Association of Drug Court Professionals/National Drug Court Institute
National District Attorney's Association (NDAA)
National Center for State Courts
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ): Access to Justice Initiative
See More Related Resources
More BJA Publications
How many drug courts are there?
How can my jurisdiction establish a community court?
Where can I learn more about family courts and their function?
How many tribal drug courts are there?
Do you have resources on mental health courts?
Where can I learn more about drug courts and their functions?
See More FAQs
810 Seventh Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20531
For Government Use Only