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Serving People from Arrest to Reintegration

Community Oriented Defense: Stronger Public Defenders (Brennan Center for Justice)

  • Organization: Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law
  • Document Type: Report
  • Date Created: Tuesday, August 03, 2010
  • Submitted: Tuesday, August 03, 2010
  • Attachment(s): LINK

A report from the Brennan Center about public defender organizations that use its Ten Principles of Community Oriented Defense framework:

The Brennan Center founded the Community Oriented Defender (COD) Network to support defenders and their allies who seek more effective ways to carry out the defense function. Our goal is to enable defense counsel to engage community based institutions in order to reduce unnecessary contact between individuals and the criminal justice system.

Through national convenings, newsletters, informational forums and targeted reform projects, the COD Network pulls together innovative defender programs and helps replicate best practices and reform strategies. Begun as a small coalition of defender programs in 2003, the COD Network today includes over 50 defender programs. The COD vision of engagement with community based institutions has a proven track record, and although the challenges remain real, the COD model is gaining influence.

The Brennan Center, in partnership with leaders of the COD movement, developed the Ten Principles of Community Oriented Defense. These distill the three overarching advocacy strategies of the movement-whole client representation, community engagement, systemic reform-into ten concrete goals. We have provided a blueprint defender programs can use to reduce unnecessary contact between individuals and the criminal justice system, strengthen defender programs and improve policies that affect client communities.

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