Smart Defense Initiative: Training and Technical Assistance

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Administered by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Justice Programs (OJP), the Smart Defense Initiative is a grant program designed to improve indigent defense delivery systems at the state and local levels. As the national training and technical assistance provider, the National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA) directly assists six grantees across the country as they implement innovative, data-driven strategies to strengthen performance and promote high quality representation for low-income defendants. NLADA partners with the National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA) to provide strategic planning and problem solving support to the six Smart Defense grantees:

  • Alameda County (CA) Public Defender’s Office
  • Contra Costa County Office of the Public Defender
  • Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy
  • New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice 
  • Texas Indigent Defense Commission
  • Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office

Smart Defense is part of BJA's Smart Suite, which focuses on the implementation of evidence-based, data-driven solutions that enable criminal justice systems to become more effective, efficient, and economical, while also promoting the DOJ's mission "to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice." The selection of NLADA as the Smart Defense TTA provider continues our ongoing collaboration with BJA to protect the Sixth Amendment right to counsel and promote excellence in indigent defense services.

For more about Smart Defense, visit