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Public Defense In Action - Turning Principles into Practice

Award Information

Award #
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $492,208)

The Smart Defense Initiative, administered by BJA, is part of BJA’s “Smart Suite” of criminal justice programs including Smart Pretrial, Smart Policing, Smart Supervision, and Smart Prosecution. BJA established the Smart Suite over 5 years ago with the creation of the Smart Policing Initiative. The Smart Suite supports criminal justice professionals in building evidence-based, data-driven criminal justice strategies that are effective, efficient, and economical. BJA’s smart programs represent a strategic approach that brings more “science” into criminal justice operations by leveraging innovative applications of analysis, technology, and evidence-based practices.

The purpose of Smart Defense is to improve the quality of public defense delivery systems guided by the Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System, promulgated by the American Bar Association (ABA). The ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System (the ABA Ten Principles) represent fundamental building blocks for implementing quality legal representation for indigent criminal defendants. Released in 2002, the ABA Ten Principles list the American Bar Association’s recommendations for government officials and other parties who are charged with improving public defense delivery systems. These principles address defenders’ appropriate function, workload, resources, training, and quality, and have been recognized by the Attorney General “as [an] essential guidepost for ensuring that our indigent defense efforts are as effective- and as efficient – as possible.” To help jurisdictions strengthen state and local public defense delivery systems, BJA released a separate competitive grant announcement, the Smart Defense Initiative, to fund state and local sites.

The National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA), will utilize the award to provide training and technical assistance to the Smart Defense sites, each of which will focus on one or more of these Principle areas to improve delivery of public defense services: 1)independence; 2) authority to set standards; 3) early entry of counsel, and 4) supervision and evaluation of counsel.


Date Created: September 30, 2015