U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

BJA’s Sixth Amendment Initiative: Strengthening the Constitutional Protections of the Accused - A Report on Ten Sites Participating in Strategic Planning

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2021
30 pages

The Center for Court Innovation and the National Legal Aid and Defender Association have provided strategic planning support to 10 jurisdictions across the U.S. to increase their capacities to uphold Sixth Amendment protections. Grounded in the Center’s unique research-practice approach, this report describes how former public defenders are paired with experienced researchers to work as a team to support the jurisdictions' strategic planning goals. Detailing the successes, challenges, and lessons learned, this report offers insights for future efforts to strengthen the rights of all of those accused of a crime.


These Sixth Amendment rights guarantee criminal defendants 1) the right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury, 2) the right to know the nature of the accusation, 3) the right to confront and call witnesses, and 4) the right to have the assistance of a lawyer. The SAI technical assistance services to participants are provided by subject matter experts from the Center for Court Innovation, National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the Sixth Amendment Center.  These sources work directly with participating sites to provide strategic efforts intended to improve adherence to the Sixth Amendment. In focusing on the five sites added to the SAI in 2019, the intent is to feature an added service for participating sites, i.e., the requirement that sites invite key local stakeholders also engage with the technical assistance experts. The objective of this added requirement is to build a local planning team from the outset. Strategic planning efforts are informed by both local context and national events. Some examples are provided of how sites are tailoring changes related to Sixth Amendment requirements in the context of local issues and challenges.

Date Published: February 1, 2021