In continued effort to support the Department of Justice’s Right to Counsel Initiative, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), in collaboration with the Right to Counsel (R2C) National Campaign Steering Committee, has convened a consortium of national, state and local criminal justice stakeholders, community advocates and policymakers to raise awareness of the important issues relevant to providing effective public defense services, and the systemic approach(es) -- involving both criminal justice and non-criminal justice stakeholders -- that are needed to ensure the effective delivery of public defense services and the right to counsel provided under the Sixth Amendment.
The consortium will develop no/low cost policies and a strategic vision to share with policymakers and criminal justice stakeholders at multiple levels, detailing how systems can ensure effective Right to Counsel, and, most important, the action planning necessary to implement this vision. In doing so, the Right to Counsel National Campaign will utilize a multi-faceted strategy, reaching out to policymakers and the public to orient them to the issues required for meaningfully implementing the Right to Counsel as well as to provide the defense service community with the necessary tools to carry out this obligation.
The Right to Counsel National Campaign comprises of the following components:
Planning Committee – a small group of national, state and local members guiding the campaign
Communications – a team assisting with public relations research, including public opinion polling, focus groups and in-depth interviews
Messaging – a team consisting of the Planning Committee members and Communications team producing messaging for different criminal justice stakeholders and sectors of national, state and local policymakers
Marketing – a team providing support in developing marketing material for the National Campaign
The Right to Counsel National Campaign uses many of the methodologies common to other BJA technical assistance initiatives – problem definition, information gathering, and strategic planning. However, what makes the Right to Counsel National Campaign unique is the added messaging and marketing components. Having the correct messaging for any particular group will be the key to making needed changes happen on a larger level. The project will also utilize the website associated with the current Right to Counsel Technical Assistance Project, www.righttocounselta.org, to facilitate access by the field to the Right to Counsel National Campaign. This website provides a focused destination for those working with and/or interested in public defense issues, including national, state and local policymakers, a wide range of policy, operational, and other information, such as upcoming public defense events. A special segment of the website highlights relevant research underway.
Educating state and local criminal justice stakeholders on what the Right to Counsel entails and why it is important
Participation in national and other meetings of key criminal justice agencies/organizations on the importance of adequate counsel for their respective disciplines
Participation in meetings of other policymakers (legislators, county government officials, and others) to convey the importance of integrating the right to counsel in policy development
Continued broad outreach to criminal justice practitioners, policymakers and other community stakeholders through online resources, including "fact sheets", "policy guidelines" and related tools that can be used to enhance the public's understanding of and advocacy for effective public defense services for everyone –not simply the defendant.