Hartford Early Public Defense
ANNOUNCEMENT – EARLY APPOINTMENT OF COUNSEL 24/7 FOR YOUTH IN HARTFORD
The Division of Public Defender Services (DPDS) has recently launched a pilot program funded by a grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) that will provide immediate access to an attorney for any youth under 18 who is being questioned or interrogated by law enforcement in the City of Hartford. The program is aimed at increasing diversion and decreasing recidivism for youth involved with or at risk of involvement with the juvenile justice system.
The pilot program run by DPDS consists of an EARLY PUBLIC DEFENSE TEAM which is NOW AVAILABLE 24/7 AT 860-573-0000 to provide immediate access to phone consultation and/or in-person representation to youth under age 18 who are facing police or other law enforcement questioning in Hartford. The DPDS Early Public Defense Team consists of a juvenile public defender and several highly-skilled contract attorneys dedicated to providing youth with zealous legal representation, advocacy and support. Any eligible youth who utilizes the DPDS Early Public Defense service and later faces charges related to the initial call will continue to be represented by a juvenile public defender in any resulting judicial proceedings.
Currently, youth are generally not eligible for appointment of counsel until well after their initial police interaction once they have been formally charged and their case has been designated for judicial handling. Recognizing the importance of protecting youth rights and the benefits of early legal representation, DPDS hopes that timely legal intervention will ensure the preservation of youth rights, increase opportunities for diversion, reduce recidivism and improve case outcomes. To that end, DPDS is also partnering with Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) who will be assisting with researching the effectiveness of this program in meeting these goals.
DPDS is particularly excited to debut this unique program in Hartford and to work within its strong and vibrant communities. In addition to on-call youth representation, this pilot program aims to embrace the strength of communities and capacity to promote positive change. Community engagement and outreach have been given a central role to ensure awareness of this emerging role, as well as Connecticut’s juvenile justice processes and goals, youth rights, and available resources. The juvenile public defender assigned to this pilot is available to provide on-call or on-site guidance, education, training, and support to community stakeholders, families, and youth to ensure understanding and promote collaboration. Attached is a program flyer, and we would encourage you to share this with Hartford youth and their families!