VISTA: Learn about the Sites

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Since emergence in 2018, NLADA’s AmeriCorps VISTA program, Defending Communities in Service has supported 32 host sites across the country and jumpstarted 66 members’ careers in public service. We aim to not only improve community engagement and data systems in public defense systems but create a cohort of people committed to public defense and equity in the criminal justice system. Below is information about our project host sites.

Delaware The Office of Defense Services

The Office of Defense Services (ODS comprises three divisions: Central Administration, the Public Defender's Office, and the Office of Conflicts Counsel.

The ODS provides defense attorneys for people accused of crimes who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers and maintains offices in New Castle, Kent and Sussex Counties. Attorneys with the ODS defend adults and youth who have been charged with crimes in Delaware. The guiding principle at the ODS is that financial means is not a barrier to obtaining zealous legal representation. Our mission is: zealous advocacy for the people. The ODS’ commitment to improving the justice system extends beyond the courtroom. Attorneys and staff with the ODS frequently engage in community outreach events and robust public advocacy.

Riverside County 

Service. Honor. Wisdom. Integrity. Inclusion. These are our values.

"It is the Mission of the Law Offices of the Public Defender to provide the highest quality of legal representation to any person unable to afford such representation in criminal, juvenile or certain civil proceedings, upon the request of the client or the appointment of the Court."

Orleans Public Defender

OPD’s mission is to fight for our clients by providing excellent client-centered representation, reforming the system and partnering with the community. OPD Injustice Rally created in the wake of a complete criminal justice system failure following Hurricane Katrina, OPD reimagined representation for poor people in New Orleans. OPD brought forth a model and standard of representation never before seen and is now a benchmark for public defense in Louisiana.

Neighborhood Defender Service

Neighborhood Defender Service (NDS) is known nationally and internationally for its innovative, community-based, holistic public defense practice. Their dedicated staff is committed to providing unparalleled legal representation.Since they opened our doors in Harlem in 1990, they have pioneered the holistic model as a way to address problems plaguing public defense. In contrast to a traditional public defense practice, NDS clients have an entire team fighting on their behalf, including criminal and civil attorneys, family defense attorneys, advocates, social workers, investigators, paralegals, law school and social work interns, and pro bono attorneys.

West Virginia Public Defender Services

Public Defender Services (PDS) is a state agency under the Department of Administration. PDS funds all indigent defense for the State of West Virginia. Representation is provided by two methods: private attorneys on a court-appointed basis and full-time public defenders at public defender corporations.

The Office of Appellate Defender, NYC

The Office of the Appellate Defender (OAD) is one of New York City’s oldest providers of appellate representation to poor people convicted of felonies, and the City’s second oldest institutional indigent defense office.  Since its founding in 1988, OAD has held a unique position in the field of indigent appellate defense: it not only provides superb appellate advocacy, but it is also a leader in innovative, holistic, and client-centered representation. Today, OAD represents poor people convicted of felonies in Manhattan and the Bronx in the New York Supreme Court, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Judicial Department, the New York State Court of Appeals, and the federal courts.

Santa Barbara

The Office of the Public Defender exists to provide legal services to people who qualify for our assistance. Lawyers, investigators, and secretarial staff are employed to accomplish this goal. Their mission is to protect and defend the rights of our clients through legal representation of the highest quality, in pursuit of a fair and unbiased system of justice for all.

The Center for Appellate Litigation, NYC

The Center for Appellate Litigation is a non-profit public defense law firm dedicated to the pursuit of equal justice under the law for indigent New Yorkers in their criminal appeals and other post-conviction proceedings.

Delaware County

The Delaware County Public Defender’s Office is committed to the pursuit of justice by aggressively advocating for the constitutional rights and inherent dignity of individuals who are accused or convicted of crimes and cannot afford to pay for a lawyer. The Office will advance the rights of all individuals by developing innovative approaches in our representation that promote beneficial change to the justice system and by serving as a valuable resource to the larger community.

Richmond County, GA

The Augusta Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender is responsible for ensuring that adequate and effective legal representation is provided, independently of political consideration or private interests, to indigent persons who are entitled to representation. The legal representation is consistent with the guarantees of the Constitution of the State of Georgia, the Constitution of the United States, and the mandates of the Indigent Defense Act of 2003. The Augusta Judicial Circuit Office of the Public Defender provides such legal services in a cost-efficient manner and conducts representation in such a way that the criminal justice system operates effectively to achieve justice.

Past Host Sites:

Maricopa Office of the Public Defender, Phoenix, AZ
Pima County Public Defender – Tuscan, AZ
Alameda Public Defender's Office, Oakland, CA
Solano County Public Defender – Fairfield, CA
Contra Costa County Public Defender – Richmond, CA
Aurora Public Defender – Aurora, CO
Office of the Alternate Defense Counsel - Denver, CO
City of Atlanta Public Defender – Atlanta, GA
Public Defender Services Corporation – Guam
Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender – Chicago, IL
Moran Center for Youth Justice – Evanston, IL
Office of the Public Defender – Baltimore, MD
Michigan State Appellate Defender – Detroit, MI
Defender's Office of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, MT
Office of the State Public Defender – Jackson, MS
Brooklyn Defender Services – Brooklyn, NY
Montgomery County Public Defender – Norristown, PA
13th Circuit Public Defender – Greenville, SC
Lubbock Private Defender's Office, Lubbock, TX
Wisconsin Public Defender, Madison, WI