A new report that examines due process for juveniles in Missouri found that, with a few exceptions, “youth are discouraged from and systematically denied counsel throughout the state.”
The National Juvenile Defense Center (NJDC) compiled survey data from judges and attorneys across the state, conducted interviews with youth and families and made site visits to local juvenile courts in a sampling of jurisdictions.
Three major issues were identified as endemic in the system:
1. Juvenile defendants are hampered by the state's indigent defense system, which “has endured at least two decades of crushing caseloads and inadequate resources to provide its mandated services,” the report says.
2. While Missouri has been hailed for its youth services and recognition of issues in the delinquency system, a functional system to guarantee due process for juveniles has not been put in place.
3. The expansive role of Deputy Juvenile Officers (Missouri's equivalent of probation officers) may “influence, directly or indirectly, the ability of youth to be appointed counsel early in the process.”
To read the report, click HERE.