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Bolder Management for Public Defense: Leadership in Three Dimensions

NCJ Number
Cait Clarke; Christopher Stone
Date Published
November 2001
6 pages
Publication Series
Using examples from around the Nation, this paper suggests three dimensions in which managers of public defense services can lead their organizations and their field.
First, managers of public defense services can offer a special clarity of vision within their offices. This involves focusing everyone in the office on organizational goals, articulating standards, aligning all activities within the office, and achieving internal efficiency. Second, with their colleagues in other criminal justice agencies, managers of public defense services can build consensus for positive reforms within the whole system. This aspect of leadership consists of engaging in policy bargaining, giving voice to client communities, and urging diversion of classes of cases from formal processing in the criminal justice system. Third, managers of public defense services can advance a vision of crime prevention that rises above ideology. Two ways that public defense leaders have effectively argued that their work reduces crime are to show that quality defense services reduce recidivism, thus reducing crime, and that effective defense services help reduce abuses and corruption of the criminal justice system that would make it unfair for indigent criminal defendants. Regarding contributions to the prevention of recidivism, defense leaders can take an active role in the design and promotion of alternative sentencing programs that deliver measurable reductions in crime while serving the best interests of their clients. In becoming knowledgeable about the most effective local programs that help change client behavior for the better, defense lawyers can help mobilize the communities they serve to join in the design, operation, and accreditation of community sentences. Further, defense attorneys can help fight public corruption that adversely impacts their clients and the community, such as police brutality, racial profiling, disparate sentencing schemes, and unreasonable traffic stops.

Date Published: November 1, 2001