The Network for Early Access to Counsel

The Network for Early Access to Counsel (NEAC) brings together public defenders, policy makers, practitioners and researchers to share information, resources and ideas about advancing access to counsel at the earliest opportunity – upon arrest, before and during interrogation, and before arraignment.

Fair Trials, in partnership with NORC at the University of Chicago and funding from Arnold Ventures, launched NEAC, the Network for Early Access to Counsel. This is network for stakeholders in the movement to improve early access to counsel – pre arraignment and especially for those held in police custody and subject to interrogation. We hope to use this network to share the information we observe and to draw together and share the experiences of other similar programs around the country, and around the world, with the hopes of accelerating and improving early access to counsel.

Resources

  • Network members meet quarterly to discuss best practices and strategies to advance early access to counsel.
  • Our member directory is available via this link.
  • We are also undertaking an initiative to aggregate and analyse current litigation and initiatives related to access to counsel for youth. Please email ali.boyd@fairtrials.net if you have any additions to this directory.

Background

Over the past year, we have seen multiple jurisdictions consider, adopt or expand laws that have the potential to improve or provide access to counsel, or enhanced Miranda rights, for arrested people before arraignment, in police custody. Fair Trials, through its international work, has also been a part of a European-wide movement to ensure access to counsel in police custody for all arrested people and has experience of these early representation systems from dozens of countries.

Fair Trials and NORC are currently undertaking a project to evaluate the implementation of SB 203, which enhances Miranda rights and offers the possibility of access to counsel for juveniles in police custody in California. As part of that project, we will create a Best Practice guide for police station representation and a Data Collection toolkit for public defenders engaged in this work.

What do I have to do as a network member?

NEAC will function as an email listserv and resource sharing platform to share information, ask questions of peers, and promote activities and collaboration. We will hold four webinars a year. You will get access to cutting edge practices in early access to counsel from around the country and the world, and technical support for your initiatives.

If you are interested in joining NEAC, please email Ali Boyd: ali.boyd@fairtrials.net.