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Communications Tips for the Field

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NLADA's Communications division supports the work of our members by promoting increased awareness and understanding of the equal justice community's pursuit of fair and equal access to justice.

NLADA and Federal Transition Issues

As NLADA celebrates its centennial, we are recognizing the progress of equal justice luminaries over the past 100 years and looking forward to shape justice in America over the next 100 years. We are guided by strategic vision - "Blueprint for Justice: Rethink. Retool. Rebuild."

People across the nation are deprived of justice in courtrooms every day because they lack access to quality civil or public defense counsel. While our nation has made significant progress over the past century, we must balance the scales of justice and ensure that everyone in America has access to quality counsel.

Eliminate barriers to opportunity by developing, funding and enforcing policies that:

  • Prevent lenders from making obscene profits through unfair lending processes that target uneducated people, low income people and people of color
  • Protect the public and promote healthy families by supporting successful re-entry from prison into the community
  • Ensure that our public schools are worthy of the promise of America regardless of where they are located
  • Eliminate racial disparities in sentencing

Close the “justice gap” by:

  • Providing LSC-funded attorneys with access to the same tools and resources as the rest of the equal justice community through removal of the restrictions that prevent cost-effective representation
  • Increasing funding to the Legal Services Corporation to reach the FY 1990 funding level (in 2009 dollars)
  • Ensuring that legal aid programs have appropriate access to funding through HHS, DOJ, HUD and other government agencies

Fulfill Gideon’s promise by:

  • Supporting parity in the distribution of federal funding and resources to courts, the prosecution and public defense so that attorneys have the time, tools and training to provide quality representation
  • Enforcing adherence to the ABA Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System to prevent damage to individuals and families that result from overwhelming caseloads and meager resources
  • Leveling the playing field by funding the John R. Justice Prosecutors and Defenders Incentive Act of 2008 so that public defense systems can attract and retain lawyers to work on behalf of low-income people

While these are the overarching priorities of the association, our civil legal services and defender legal services departments are also involved in more indepth and specific issues. For information on those issues, please see below.

Civil Federal Transition Issues

The provision of legal assistance to individuals, children and families is essential to ensuring equal access to justice in this country. While the network of legal aid programs across the U.S. is the backbone enabling people, regardless of income, to obtain high-quality, respectful, supportive legal advice and assistance to ensure such basic human rights as housing, food and freedom from violence within their homes, federal programs are known for inconsistent administration between agencies thus deterring many quality legal aid programs from applying for federal funding. The Obama Administration should institute a cross-agency review to address some of the recurring problems that have plagued these programs in the past including:

  • Seed Funding Grants
  • Confidentiality
  • Case Management Systems and program policies
  • Caps and Limits
  • Problems with statutory requirements for matching funds in certain grant programs

NLADA and the surrounding legal aid community stands ready to be a prime partner with federal agencies within the Obama Administration as they develop programs and policies that take on afresh the problems associated with poverty in the United States. For more information, including a more thorough explanation of the five issues above, please see the documents provided below.

Document Funding Legal Aid Programs to Meet Cross-Agency Programmatic Goals While Reducing Administrative Burdens (pdf, 26 Kb)

Document Legal Aid Providers: A Critical Resource for Accomplishing the Goals of Federal Programs to Assist the Poor (pdf, 36 Kb)

Defender Federal Transition Issues

Changes in the administration and Congress afford us a unique opportunity to seek federal support for the right to counsel. The National Legal Aid & Defender Association met with Department of Justice transition team members to discuss the needs of our nation's public defense systems and provided the team with a "2-page transition" document, available below. In addition, in a unique collaborative effort, NLADA, The Constitution Project, and more than 25 national criminal justice experts worked together to draft Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the New Administration and Congress, a primer on criminal justice issues for the new administration that addresses 15 issue areas supported by a wide range of experts and advocates from across the ideological spectrum. A few of the subjects covered are:

  • Juvenile Justice Reforms
  • Death Penalty/Habeas Corpus Reform
  • Federal Law Enforcement Reform – Improving Investigative Techniques, Eyewitness Identification, and Incentives to Testify
  • Federal Sentencing Reform
  • Asset Forfeiture Reform
  • Victim Issues and Restorative Justice

For more information, the complete document is available below, or visit www.2009transition.org/criminaljustice/ .

Document NLADA Department of Justice Transition 2-pager: Make Our Justice System Fair and Our Communities Safer by Supporting Quality Public Defense Systems (pdf, 61 Kb)

Document Public Defense Coversheet: Smart on Crime (pdf, 104 Kb)

Document Smart on Crime: Recommendations for the Next Administration and Congress (pdf, 194 Kb)

Resource Sharing

Equal Justice Quotations Giving a speech? Writing an article? Browse and borrow a few quotations.

Share a few quotes Did you just give a speech or write an article? Share what you’ve done with your colleagues, or

Leadership Forum - send the whole thing to be posted on the NLADA web site.

Communications Photo Album

Putting together a brochure or report? Looking for client or legal aid appropriate photos? If you have copyright-free photos you would be willing to share with your colleagues, send them to our Communications team.

Services of the NLADA Communications Division

Publications provides you with more information about NLADA's newsletters, policy memoranda and other information resources.

Media Resources showcases recent NLADA press releases and information on other media-focused activities.

Equal Justice News contains the latest news items affecting the public defense and civil legal aid communities.

Public Education Tools includes information on public opinion research conducted by NLADA on both civil legal aid and public defenders, as well as tools that have been developed to help the equal justice community communicate more effectively about the work it does.

See News From Elsewhere in the Equal Justice Community

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