☰ In this section

Foundation for Criminal Justice

NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice (NFCJ) preserves and promotes the core values of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the American criminal justice system. Ongoing and recent projects supported by the NFCJ include unprecedented studies of the federal public defense system, barriers to disclosure of exculpatory information, and obstacles to restoration of rights and status after conviction; efforts to identify concrete and easily-achieved solutions to racial disparities in the criminal justice system; free training programs for lawyers on a variety of topics including representing juveniles accused of wrongdoing and individuals facing immigration-related collateral consequences of conviction; and efforts to improve public defense in federal and state courts.

 Donate Now  

Second Chances: The NFCJ's 2019 Annual Gala
Diversion | Re-entry | Mitigation | Clemency | Commutation | Pardon | Redemption | Rights Restoration

The NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice (NFCJ) and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) invite you to attend Second Chances: The NFCJ's 2019 Annual Gala. The evening will honor the Supervision to Aid Reentry (STAR) Program; the Capital Habeas Corpus Unit at the Federal Community Defender Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania; and will celebrat clemency project champions.

Friday, August 2, 2019 at 7:00 PM
The Franklin Institute
222 North 20th Street

Learn more about the event 

NFCJ Annual Report

NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice is pleased to publish its most recent Annual Report.

Read the report | Read the report in PDF (PDF)

Access to Competent Counsel

The NFCJ supports myriad activities to reform local, state, and federal public defense systems. The NFCJ embraces the fundamental concept that counsel must be provided to all accused persons at any court appearance at which a guilty plea to any crime may be entered or at which liberty is at risk. This goal remains elusive throughout much of the country. Through support for NACDL Public Defense Reform and Litigation Fund, the NFCJ also supports a broad range of activities to improve the nation’s public defense infrastructure, and to vastly expand training and education opportunities for defense lawyers in all realms of practice. 

Federal Public Defense

Indigent Defense 2015 ReportIn the wake of the severe cuts to the provision of public defense services during sequestration in 2013, the NFCJ provided critical funding to NACDL's Federal Indigent Defense Task Force to examine the federal public defense system. The task force's mission included an assessment of the level of independence afforded to the Defender Services Office and consideration of whether reforms are necessary to ensure adherence to the ABA’s Ten Principles of a Public Defense Delivery System. After extensive research and more than 130 interviews with key stakeholders, the Task Force identified several significant, persistent deficiencies in the system. This report explores those concerns and offers seven recommendations to assure a robust federal public defense system.

Read the Report (PDF) | Project Overview 

Learn more about how the NFCJ supports public defense reform.

Fighting Overcriminalization and Prosecutorial Misconduct

Overcriminalization is a dangerous trend that the NFCJ is working to reverse. The problem is compounded by a system that unduly imbues prosecutors with an excessively disproportionate array of tools, including unbridled charging authority, mandatory minimum sentences, and largely unreviewable discretion to control the flow of information to the defense. The threat of geometrically increased penalties for those who dare to challenge the government’s case, often without access to vital information consistent with innocence, unduly burdens the right to a trial. This is known as the trial penalty. The resulting systematic imbalance impels even innocent people to waive fundamental constitutional rights. 

Material Indifference and Brady Disclosure

Material Indifference CoverIn courtrooms across the nation, accused persons are convicted without ever having seen information that was favorable to their defense. The frequency with which this occurs and the role it plays in wrongful convictions prompted with NFCJ support, NACDL and the VERITAS Initiative to undertake an unprecedented study of Brady claims litigated in federal courts over a five-year period. The Study asked: What role does judicial review play in the disclosure of favorable information to accused? The results revealed a troubling answer—the judiciary is impeding fair disclosure in criminal cases and, in doing so, encouraging prosecutors to disclose as little favorable information as possible.

Read the Report (PDF) | Project Overview 

Restoration of Rights and The Eight Amendment

Federal, state, and local law enforcement arrest some 14 million people annual, and it is estimated that nearly 70 million adults have criminal records. There are at least 45,000 collateral consequences of arrest or conviction. This vast array of legal restrictions, generalized discrimination, and social stigma have become more severe, more public, and more frequently permanent. The NFCJ and NACDL are undertaking efforts to rein in this worrisome trend.

Collateral Damage and the Task Force on the Restoration of Rights

collateral damage webWith more than 65 million people in America having some form of a criminal record, the universality and import of the problem this nonpartisan report tackles is tremendous. With critical support from the NFCJ, NACDL's Task Force on the Restoration of Rights and Status After Conviction held hearings all over the country, featuring testimony from more than 150 witnesses from every corner of the criminal justice system, as part of the research leading to this report. Included among the witnesses were those who have faced unfair, irrational, and often life-altering barriers arising from a brush with the criminal law. Many of their stories are captured in the report. And many more are available in the complete transcripts of the Task Force’s hearings. With more than one in four adults in the United States having some form of a criminal record, and more than 2.2 million people currently behind bars in the United States, more than any other nation in the world, the vast impact of the problem of collateral consequences and legal barriers to reentry is undeniable.

Read the Report (PDF) | Project Overview 

Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparities

As the nation is constantly reminded, racial and ethnic disparities permeate America's criminal justice system. The NFCJ supports projects designed to constructively address these disparities.

Eliminating Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

Racial Disparity ReportNACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice sponsored Criminal justice in the 21st Century: Eliminating Racial and Ethnic Disparity in the Criminal Justice System in partnership with NACDL and other partners. This groundbreaking project brought together leading experts from all corners of the criminal justice system over two conferences to identify effective and practical solutions to end racial and ethnic criminal justice disparities. Articles from the two conferences appeared in The New York University Journal of Legislation & Public Policy and in a series of articles published in The Champion, in addition to a three-part podcast series.

Learn more about the project. 

Under Seiege

With NFCJ support, NACDL produced a webinar following events in Ferguson, Mo., on polarizing issues including racism, implicit bias, disparate sentencing policies, as well as, the over-policing of minority and poor communities. The result was Under Siege: The Defense Bar Examines Police Militarization, Ethnic & Racial Dynamics of Sentencing, and Their Impact on Criminal Justice Outcomes. The panels addressed militarization, ethnic & racial dynamics of sentencing and their impact on criminal justice outcomes, as well as the historical and systemic issues associated with crime and the response of police to those communities most affected by crime, and solutions policy makers and communities can make to solve these issues on the local, state and federal level.

Learn more about the project or watch the webinars.  

Protecting the Fourth Amendment

In no area is the role of the criminal defense more vital than in defining individual privacy rights. The limit of the government's power to conduct searches and seizures is tested in the context of criminal cases. The constitutional validity of the government's surveillance and investigation method sis litigated when prosecutors offer evidence against someone who is accused of wrongdoing. The NFCJ supports efforts to ensure that the Fourth Amendment remains a vibrant protection against encroachments on individual privacy and liberty.This is an especially vital role in the digital age. The NFCJ believes that Fourth Amendment protections should neither turn on the medium used to transmit private information, nor on how that information is stored. 

Mail Cover Surveillance

Mail Cover Surveillance Report NACDL's Fourth Amendment Advocacy Committee carefully and comprehensively studied issues concerning the current United States Postal Service Mail Covers regime in light of reports that the U.S. Postal Service’s mass mail covers surveillance program, which secretly monitors the mail of Americans, approved nearly 50,000 requests from law enforcement agencies as well as its own internal inspection unit, all without judicial review. That report also revealed that federal prosecutors used a mail cover to monitor the communications between a criminal defendant and his lawyers, one of whom was Past President of NACDL Cynthia Orr. NACDL's newly adopted report Mail Cover Surveillance: Problems and Recommendations analyzes the issues and offers a number of recommendations for addressing the issue, concluding that 'addressing the potential for mail covers to violate the Fourth Amendment and privacy norms is more important than ever.’

Read the Report (PDF)

Domestic Drone Information Center

NACDL’s Domestic Drone Information Center provides a one-stop source of cutting-edge information on the proliferation of drones inside the United States. It collects news from leading publications across the nation; features a comprehensive listing of legislative developments; and contains sections devoted to relevant case law, scholarship, upcoming events, and data on drone usage. The Domestic Drone Information Center also aggregates existing material from other websites, making it a launching pad to additional information about domestic drones on the web. This project was made possible in part by support from NACDL Foundation for Criminal Justice.

Visit the Center. 

Resources for Lawyers

The Resource Counsel Project at NACDL, made possible by initial support from the NFCJ, provides access to technical assistance for, among others, court-appointed counsel, contract defenders, and solo and small firm defense attorneys. The goal of this project is to give all defense lawyers access to information and direct assistance on as range of critical topics from the basics of criminal procedure, to the cutting edge of substantive criminal law, like motions to challenge eyewitness identification procedures. The Resource Counsel has developed a broad, web-based technical assistance module for defense lawyers, as well as provided innumerable attorneys with direct technical assistance.

Additional examples of recently launched web-based training programs and resources are:

  • NACDL’s Compendium on Electronic Recordation of Interrogation provides a complete, up-to-date analysis of laws that require law enforcement to record the entirety of custodial interrogations — a principal source of wrongful convictions.
  • The Proportionality Litigation Project is a collection of individual downloadable documents that summarize for each U.S.state the key doctrines and leading court rulings setting forth constitutional and statutory limits on lengthy imprisonment terms and other extreme (non-capital) sentences.

Having the resource counsel position has also permitted NACDL to obtain funding to train defense lawyers on a number of critical and topical issues. With support from the NFCJ, NACDL coordinated a series of webinars to ensure that the criminal defense bar understands the implications of the Padilla v. KentuckyGraham v. FloridaMiller v. Alabama, and Jackson v. Hobb decisions. The trainings have been made available online without any charge, and remain available on demand, in an effort to reach the broadest possible audience. In addition, and with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, NACDL’s Resource Counsel has coordinated several national trainings that educate attorneys on litigating post-conviction innocence claims involving mainly flawed forensic evidence.

Advertisement Advertise with Us

In This Section

Advertisement Advertise with Us