The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia Champions of Liberty! It is the mission of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) to provide and promote quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia, thereby protecting society's interest in the fair administration of justice.

Operating as usual

Cries for help from @DCCorrections residents:No human should live like thisWe live in filthWe’re hungry all the timeWe d...
11/11/2021
No human being should be treated like this: Voices from inside DC Jail (November 2021)

Cries for help from @DCCorrections residents:

No human should live like this
We live in filth
We’re hungry all the time
We don't have water
Guards are brutal
They take our things to keep us from reporting problems
I got COVID & begged them not to let me die

Hear more: https://youtu.be/psEfTzRMC6I

Cries for help from DC Jail residents:No human should live like thisWe live in filthWe’re hungry all the timeWe don't have waterGuards are brutalThey take ou...

#Jobalert: PDS is looking for a Human Resources Specialist. Please help us fill this critical position by sharing this p...
11/10/2021

#Jobalert: PDS is looking for a Human Resources Specialist. Please help us fill this critical position by sharing this post broadly. #humanresources #hrcareers #humanresourcesrecruiting #humanresourcesjobs #hiring

https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities/job-opportunity-listing/human-resources-specialist---pds-2021-20

#Jobalert: PDS is looking for a Human Resources Specialist. Please help us fill this critical position by sharing this post broadly. #humanresources #hrcareers #humanresourcesrecruiting #humanresourcesjobs #hiring

https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities/job-opportunity-listing/human-resources-specialist---pds-2021-20

“The notion that Lewisburg is an improvement over the DC jail points to the degree of human suffering occurring right no...
11/08/2021
Transfer of defendants at D.C. jail to begin Monday after inspection found unacceptable conditions

“The notion that Lewisburg is an improvement over the DC jail points to the degree of human suffering occurring right now under the watch of the Mayor, the local judiciary, and the US Attorney’s Office,” the D.C. Public Defender Service said in a statement Friday.
Washington Post #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter

https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/11/05/dc-jail-conditions-transfers/

By Emily Davies and Spencer S. Hsu Yesterday at 8:00 p.m. EDTBy Emily Davies and Spencer S. Hsu Yesterday at 8:00 p.m. EDTThe transfer of residents under federal custody at the D.C. jail to the U.S. federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Pa., will begin on Monday, exactly one week after the U.S. Marshal...

Read these Washington Post opinions to learn the latest regarding conditions at the DC Jail. #publicdefender #blacklives...
11/08/2021
Opinion | The D.C. jail is the city’s responsibility. You wouldn’t know it from the city’s response.

Read these Washington Post opinions to learn the latest regarding conditions at the DC Jail. #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/05/mayor-must-answer-questions-take-action-deplorable-dc-jail-conditions/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2021/11/08/dc-jail-is-citys-responsibility-you-wouldnt-know-it-citys-response/

Standing sewage in toilets. Cells without water. The U.S. Marshals Service findings of horrific conditions at the D.C. jail is all too familiar — and an indictment of callous city officials.

PDS Calls for the Immediate Release of all Persons Detained at the D.C. Jail:For years, the Public Defender Service for ...
11/03/2021

PDS Calls for the Immediate Release of all Persons Detained at the D.C. Jail:

For years, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, along with other legal and grass-roots organizations, has called out and challenged the D.C. Department of Corrections for its horrific treatment of nearly exclusively Black and Brown people detained at the D.C. Jail. The inhumane conditions have included long-term solitary confinement for people with no disciplinary issues, lack of running water, full illumination of cells for 24-hours per day resulting in sleep deprivation, cells soiled with f***s and blood, lack of air conditioning during the summer and heat during the winter, lack of proper medical care, failure to provide mental health treatment, and physical and mental abuse by correctional officers of people in their custody.

Through the advocacy of the members of this coalition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and D.C. Superior Court judges have become fully aware of the brutality a person faces when prosecutors request and judges order detention at the D.C. Jail. But only when a federal judge was unhappy with the way that January 6 defendants have been treated was any action taken. Now the U.S. Marshals Service has determined that they will no longer allow people under their care to be held at the D.C. Jail.

This sudden epiphany by stakeholders only after White people complained of conditions at the D.C. Jail is a clear example of the historic and systemic racism that plagues the carceral system. Prosecutors continue to seek detention in D.C. Superior Court, and judges callously continue to hold clients under conditions that have been deemed too harsh for people in federal custody.

“We refuse to stay silent and call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop seeking clients’ detention and the D.C. Superior Court judges to take immediate action and release clients who are facing these unconstitutional and inhumane conditions,” said Avis E. Buchanan, Director, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter

https://www.pdsdc.org/docs/default-source/press-releases/public-defender-service-calls-for-the-immediate-release-of-all-persons-detained-at-the-d-c-jailce86fdc3c02264be8d48ff00007f1dad.pdf?sfvrsn=f1a499d0_2

PDS Calls for the Immediate Release of all Persons Detained at the D.C. Jail:

For years, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, along with other legal and grass-roots organizations, has called out and challenged the D.C. Department of Corrections for its horrific treatment of nearly exclusively Black and Brown people detained at the D.C. Jail. The inhumane conditions have included long-term solitary confinement for people with no disciplinary issues, lack of running water, full illumination of cells for 24-hours per day resulting in sleep deprivation, cells soiled with f***s and blood, lack of air conditioning during the summer and heat during the winter, lack of proper medical care, failure to provide mental health treatment, and physical and mental abuse by correctional officers of people in their custody.

Through the advocacy of the members of this coalition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and D.C. Superior Court judges have become fully aware of the brutality a person faces when prosecutors request and judges order detention at the D.C. Jail. But only when a federal judge was unhappy with the way that January 6 defendants have been treated was any action taken. Now the U.S. Marshals Service has determined that they will no longer allow people under their care to be held at the D.C. Jail.

This sudden epiphany by stakeholders only after White people complained of conditions at the D.C. Jail is a clear example of the historic and systemic racism that plagues the carceral system. Prosecutors continue to seek detention in D.C. Superior Court, and judges callously continue to hold clients under conditions that have been deemed too harsh for people in federal custody.

“We refuse to stay silent and call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop seeking clients’ detention and the D.C. Superior Court judges to take immediate action and release clients who are facing these unconstitutional and inhumane conditions,” said Avis E. Buchanan, Director, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter

https://www.pdsdc.org/docs/default-source/press-releases/public-defender-service-calls-for-the-immediate-release-of-all-persons-detained-at-the-d-c-jailce86fdc3c02264be8d48ff00007f1dad.pdf?sfvrsn=f1a499d0_2

Congratulations PDS alumna Jia Cobb!  #publicdefender #careers https://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/sena...
10/27/2021
Senate Confirms Norton Recommendation Jia Cobb to U.S. District Court for D.C.

Congratulations PDS alumna Jia Cobb! #publicdefender #careers

https://norton.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/senate-confirms-norton-recommendation-jia-cobb-to-us-district-court-for

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) celebrated yesterday’s Senate confirmation of Jia Cobb to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Norton recommended Cobb to President Biden. Biden, like Presidents Clinton and Obama, has granted Norton senatorial courte...

Contact PDS at 202-824-2801 to request free copies of THE D.C. REENTRY NAVIGATOR, a 900-page, 16-chapter book that is a ...
10/05/2021

Contact PDS at 202-824-2801 to request free copies of THE D.C. REENTRY NAVIGATOR, a 900-page, 16-chapter book that is a comprehensive compilation of expert knowledge and reentry resources for people arrested, charged, tried, and/or convicted under District of Columbia law. For more than 60 years, PDS has provided high quality representation to indigent people facing a loss of liberty in the District’s criminal, juvenile, and mental health systems. PDS created The D.C. Reentry Navigator as a resource for persons working to regain their lives following arrest, conviction, and/or incarceration. #publicdefender #secondchances #dcreentry #dcreentrynavigator

Contact PDS at 202-824-2801 to request free copies of THE D.C. REENTRY NAVIGATOR, a 900-page, 16-chapter book that is a comprehensive compilation of expert knowledge and reentry resources for people arrested, charged, tried, and/or convicted under District of Columbia law. For more than 60 years, PDS has provided high quality representation to indigent people facing a loss of liberty in the District’s criminal, juvenile, and mental health systems. PDS created The D.C. Reentry Navigator as a resource for persons working to regain their lives following arrest, conviction, and/or incarceration. #publicdefender #secondchances #dcreentry #dcreentrynavigator

CJA & Pro Bono lawyers representing clients in the D.C. courts, REGISTER NOW to attend the CPI Webinar Training 2021 Fal...
09/27/2021

CJA & Pro Bono lawyers representing clients in the D.C. courts, REGISTER NOW to attend the CPI Webinar Training 2021 Fall Series.

https://www.pdsdc.org/event/Y3mF76eAIB/Deborah-T.-Creek-Criminal-Practice-Institute-Webinar-Training-2021-Fall-Series

CJA & Pro Bono lawyers representing clients in the D.C. courts, REGISTER NOW to attend the CPI Webinar Training 2021 Fall Series.

https://www.pdsdc.org/event/Y3mF76eAIB/Deborah-T.-Creek-Criminal-Practice-Institute-Webinar-Training-2021-Fall-Series

Worth Reading: The George Washington University Law School report, Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring...
09/27/2021
Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System

Worth Reading: The George Washington University Law School report, Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System, analyzes hundreds of agency records that govern the use of GPS ankle monitoring for people on pretrial release, probation, and parole in 44 states and Washington, D.C. The report documents the extent to which monitoring deprives people of fundamental rights, violates basic privacy norms, extracts wealth, jeopardizes employment and undermines family and social relationships. #PublicDefender #secondchances #justicereform

https://issuu.com/gwlawpubs/docs/electronic-prisons-report?fr=sOGI5NDcxODg3

Issuu is a digital publishing platform that makes it simple to publish magazines, catalogs, newspapers, books, and more online. Easily share your publications and get them in front of Issuu’s millions of monthly readers. Title: Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal ...

We are so proud of PDS alumna and National Legal Aid & Defender Association Vice President April Frazier Camara, who wil...
09/16/2021
April Frazier Camara Selected as NLADA's New President | National Legal Aid & Defender Association

We are so proud of PDS alumna and National Legal Aid & Defender Association Vice President April Frazier Camara, who will succeed PDS alumna and current NLADA President & CEO Jo-Ann Wallace on October 29, 2021. Jo-Ann will become President of NLADA’s business partner, the NLADA Insurance Program. A bittersweet moment for our PDS family. #PublicDefender #blackpublicdefender

https://www.nlada.org/node/43311

September 14, 2021 (Washington, DC) – The Board of Directors of the Na1onal Legal Aid & Defender Associa1on (NLADA) is pleased to announce that April Frazier Camara, Esq., will become NLADA President & CEO on November 1, 2021.

09/15/2021

#jobalert: PDS is looking for an Information Technology Specialist (Network Engineer), a Human Resources Specialist, Trial Lawyers, and Summer Law Clerks. #career #hiring #humanresources #informationtechnology #PublicDefender #lawstudent #lawclerk

https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities

If you are interested in working at PDS or exploring the work of a public defender, you should meet up with PDS Legal Re...
08/24/2021

If you are interested in working at PDS or exploring the work of a public defender, you should meet up with PDS Legal Recruiting Director Jennifer Thomas. Here's Jennifer's 2021 campus schedule: https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/legal-recruiting-blog/legal-recruiting-post/pds-recruiting-blog/2021/08/24/pds's-upcoming-recruiting-schedule-2021. PDS is recruiting trial lawyers for the fall of 2022 and 2L law clerks for next summer. #careers #publicdefender #lawyer #lawschool #lawstudent #lawclerk

If you are interested in working at PDS or exploring the work of a public defender, you should meet up with PDS Legal Recruiting Director Jennifer Thomas. Here's Jennifer's 2021 campus schedule: https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/legal-recruiting-blog/legal-recruiting-post/pds-recruiting-blog/2021/08/24/pds's-upcoming-recruiting-schedule-2021. PDS is recruiting trial lawyers for the fall of 2022 and 2L law clerks for next summer. #careers #publicdefender #lawyer #lawschool #lawstudent #lawclerk

08/23/2021

JOB ALERT: PDS is #hiring Investigative Specialists and an Information Technology Specialist. Friends and alumni, please help us spread the word! #PublicDefender #investigators #informationtechnology
https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities

Thank you to summer law clerk Asha Burwell, a 3L at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, for sharing her reflections o...
08/09/2021

Thank you to summer law clerk Asha Burwell, a 3L at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, for sharing her reflections on clerking with our Community Defender Division:

"My experience working as a law clerk for PDS in the Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services program has been amazing. I have learned so much about the injustices faced by those incarcerated. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, enabling me to become a better advocate for my clients and boost my confidence as a student attorney. The PDS family has been so supportive and a huge factor in my success this summer. I am so grateful I was able to experience doing such fulfilling work that can make a difference for others' lives."

We enjoyed working with you, Asha!

#lawclerk #clerks #lawschool #publicdefender

Thank you to summer law clerk Asha Burwell, a 3L at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law, for sharing her reflections on clerking with our Community Defender Division:

"My experience working as a law clerk for PDS in the Prisoner and Reentry Legal Services program has been amazing. I have learned so much about the injustices faced by those incarcerated. I was pushed out of my comfort zone, enabling me to become a better advocate for my clients and boost my confidence as a student attorney. The PDS family has been so supportive and a huge factor in my success this summer. I am so grateful I was able to experience doing such fulfilling work that can make a difference for others' lives."

We enjoyed working with you, Asha!

#lawclerk #clerks #lawschool #publicdefender

Address

633 Indiana Avenue, NW
Washington D.C., DC
20004

The office is one block from the Archives/Navy Memorial Metro stop (Green and Yellow Lines).

General information

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) provides and promotes quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia and thereby protects society’s interest in the fair administration of justice. PDS is a federally funded, independent organization, governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees. The organization began in 1960 as the Legal Aid Agency (LAA), charged with providing legal representation for people unable to afford an attorney in judicial proceedings in the District of Columbia. In 1963, the Supreme Court’s decision in Gideon v. Wainwright recognized the constitutional right to an attorney for poor people charged with a crime and fueled the commitment for public defender services. Building on that momentum, LAA leadership crafted the 1970 statute that established PDS, broadened the mandate, and secured the apolitical role of the Board of Trustees, which preserved PDS’s autonomy. PDS’s exceptional advocacy and proven success through individualized and continuous client representation, comprehensive training, non-legal resources, effective management and administrative systems, involvement with the private and court-appointed defense system, and law reform resulted in the designation of PDS as an exemplary project and model for other jurisdictions in 1974 by the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration of the US Department of Justice. Since then, PDS has maintained the reputation as one of the best public defender offices in the country—local or federal. It has become the national standard-bearer and the benchmark by which other public defender systems often measure themselves. Due largely to effective advocacy by PDS leadership, the National Capital Revitalization and Self-Government Improvement Act of 1997 (the “Revitalization Act”) and its 1998 Amendments established PDS as a federally funded, independent legal organization governed by an eleven-member Board of Trustees and preserved all programmatic aspects of the model public defender system. In the District, PDS and the DC courts share the responsibility for providing constitutionally mandated legal representation to people who cannot pay for their own attorney. Under the District’s Criminal Justice Act (CJA), the courts generally appoint PDS to the more serious, more complex, resource-intensive, and time-consuming criminal cases and juvenile delinquency cases. The courts assign the remaining cases, mainly the less serious cases and the majority of misdemeanor and traffic cases, to a panel of court-approved private attorneys (“CJA attorneys”). PDS attorneys also handle criminal appeals, almost all parole revocation hearings, most Drug Court sanction hearings, and represent people facing involuntary commitment in the mental health system, children with special education needs facing delinquency charges, and clients in civil proceedings that were triggered by their criminal charges or their incarceration. In addition, PDS offers training for its staff and other defense attorneys and investigators who represent those who cannot afford an attorney, and provides support to the DC Courts. PDS has also developed innovative approaches to representation, from addressing the problems clients encounter when returning to the community following incarceration to creating a one-of-a-kind electronic case tracking system.

Opening Hours

Monday 9am - 5:30pm
Tuesday 9am - 5:30pm
Wednesday 9am - 5:30pm
Thursday 9am - 5:30pm
Friday 9am - 5:30pm

Telephone

(202) 628-1200

Alerts

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Everyone deserves someone in their corner.

The Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) provides and promotes quality legal representation to indigent adults and children facing a loss of liberty in the District of Columbia and thereby protects society's interest in the fair administration of justice.

A major portion of the work we do consists of representing individuals in the District of Columbia’s local criminal justice system who are charged with committing serious criminal acts and who are eligible for court-appointed counsel. In the District of Columbia, public defense services are primarily provided by PDS, the “institutional defender,” and by a panel of private attorneys, known as Criminal Justice Act (CJA) attorneys, who are screened for membership on the panel and paid on a case-by-case basis by the District of Columbia courts. Because of its resources, well-regarded training program, and overall skill level, PDS generally handles the more serious criminal cases, and the CJA attorneys generally handle the less serious criminal cases.

PDS attorneys represent indigent clients in the majority of the most serious adult felony cases filed in the District of Columbia Superior Court every year, clients pursuing or defending against criminal appeals, nearly all individuals facing parole revocation under the District of Columbia Code, and all defendants in the District of Columbia Superior Court requiring representation at Drug Court sanctions hearings. PDS also provides legal representation to people facing involuntary civil commitment in the mental health system, as well as to many of the indigent children in the most serious delinquency cases, including those who have special education needs due to learning disabilities.

In addition, PDS addresses the legal issues and barriers related to the successful community reentry of our clients. PDS also provides technical assistance to the local criminal justice system, training for CJA and pro bono attorneys, and additional legal services to indigent clients in accordance with PDS’s enabling statute (Pub. L. No. 91-358, Title III, § 301 (1970); see also D.C. Code §§ 2-1601 – 1608 (2001).).

Nearby government services


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Comments

Cries for help from @DCCorrections residents: No human should live like this We live in filth We’re hungry all the time We don't have water Guards are brutal They take our things to keep us from reporting problems I got COVID & begged them not to let me die Hear more: https://youtu.be/psEfTzRMC6I
#Jobalert: PDS is looking for a Human Resources Specialist. Please help us fill this critical position by sharing this post broadly. #humanresources #hrcareers #humanresourcesrecruiting #humanresourcesjobs #hiring https://www.pdsdc.org/careers/job-opportunities/job-opportunity-listing/human-resources-specialist---pds-2021-20
“The notion that Lewisburg is an improvement over the DC jail points to the degree of human suffering occurring right now under the watch of the Mayor, the local judiciary, and the US Attorney’s Office,” the D.C. Public Defender Service said in a statement Friday. Washington Post #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter https://www.washingtonpost.com/dc-md-va/2021/11/05/dc-jail-conditions-transfers/
PDS Calls for the Immediate Release of all Persons Detained at the D.C. Jail: For years, the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia, along with other legal and grass-roots organizations, has called out and challenged the D.C. Department of Corrections for its horrific treatment of nearly exclusively Black and Brown people detained at the D.C. Jail. The inhumane conditions have included long-term solitary confinement for people with no disciplinary issues, lack of running water, full illumination of cells for 24-hours per day resulting in sleep deprivation, cells soiled with f***s and blood, lack of air conditioning during the summer and heat during the winter, lack of proper medical care, failure to provide mental health treatment, and physical and mental abuse by correctional officers of people in their custody. Through the advocacy of the members of this coalition, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and D.C. Superior Court judges have become fully aware of the brutality a person faces when prosecutors request and judges order detention at the D.C. Jail. But only when a federal judge was unhappy with the way that January 6 defendants have been treated was any action taken. Now the U.S. Marshals Service has determined that they will no longer allow people under their care to be held at the D.C. Jail. This sudden epiphany by stakeholders only after White people complained of conditions at the D.C. Jail is a clear example of the historic and systemic racism that plagues the carceral system. Prosecutors continue to seek detention in D.C. Superior Court, and judges callously continue to hold clients under conditions that have been deemed too harsh for people in federal custody. “We refuse to stay silent and call on the U.S. Attorney’s Office to stop seeking clients’ detention and the D.C. Superior Court judges to take immediate action and release clients who are facing these unconstitutional and inhumane conditions,” said Avis E. Buchanan, Director, Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. #publicdefender #blacklivesmatter https://www.pdsdc.org/docs/default-source/press-releases/public-defender-service-calls-for-the-immediate-release-of-all-persons-detained-at-the-d-c-jailce86fdc3c02264be8d48ff00007f1dad.pdf?sfvrsn=f1a499d0_2
Congratulations to PDS alumna Tana Lin! #publicdefender #legalcareers