WDA is voice of the public defense community and provides support for zealous and high quality legal representation by advocating for change, educating defenders, and collaborating with other justice system stakeholders and the broader community to bring about just solutions.
The Washington Defender Association was created in 1983 in response to needs of public defenders and their clients. It is the only organization in Washington dedicated solely to public defense reform and to supporting and training public defense attorneys, investigators and social workers.
WDA focuses its work in three primary areas: training and publications, public defender case assistance, and policy advocacy. Our current funding supports specific projects that provide training and resource assistance for:
- Misdemeanor and felony defenders, especially those in rural and small offices without supervisory support;
- Defenders representing noncitizen clients through our WDA Immigration Project;
- Incarcerated parents and their public defenders through our Incarcerated Parents Project; and
- Defenders representing clients facing the death penalty through our Death Penalty Assistance Project.
WDA’s advocacy efforts primarily focus on the state level, but we also are involved in national and local issues. Our work is founded upon protecting the constitutional rights of our clients and promoting equity and diversity throughout the justice system, including combatting racial inequalities and other practices that affect our low income clients and their communities.