WDA is the 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.
WDA envisions a world where zealous, well-resourced, and supported public defenders work in partnership with their clients and their communities to achieve just results on individual cases, and to take leadership in transforming the justice system to value the humanity of our clients and their communities.
- Dignity – We are committed to recognizing and honoring the humanity of all involved in the justice system, particularly our clients and their communities.
- Zealous Advocacy – We are committed to supporting the public defense community to provide zealous representation that is professional, client-centered and holistic.
- Leadership – We are committed to being leaders for systemic reform and to foster leadership capacity in and collaborate with the community.
- Community – We are committed to creating community within the public defense profession and to partner with those who seek to transform justice practices to be more client-centered and inclusive.
- Systemic Reform – We are committed to collaboration and engagement within the defender community to organize resources to advance sustained systemic reform that will lead to fairer outcomes for clients and promote solutions that reduce justice system involvement.
- Equity – We recognize that systems of exclusion target people based on race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, age, nationality, ability, immigration status, and faith. We commit to policies, practices, and a culture within our organization as well as the justice system that dismantle and transform those systems to end reliance on unwarranted incarceration and economic penalties.
After decades of criminalizing race, poverty and immigration status, criminal justice reform is emerging as the civil rights movement of our time, a foundational necessity for racial and economic justice. The familiar narrative of criminalizing race and poverty has begun to shift as leaders at all levels of our civil society begin to speak out, engage in meaningful debate, and propose strategies for change. In this context, WDA recognizes the importance of positioning itself and Washington’s public defense community to be a force that both catalyzes and benefits from these emerging trends. This will enhance the ability of defenders to provide competent and meaningful representation to their clients, deliver justice for defendants, and improve all of our communities. The goals outlined below are designed to illuminate the path WDA intends to take to achieve these outcomes.
- Sustain and expand support services and practice tools for public defenders, including case consultation services, training, and practice advisories, to ensure clients, their families and our communities receive the highest quality public defense advocacy.
- Enhance WDA’s role as a vital steward of Washington’s public defense community that plays a primary role in growing leaders, building networks and mobilizing member defenders.
- Leverage technology and social media to expand WDA’s communications capacities to extend the reach of our voice, enlarge our presence, and increase the impact of our work on behalf of our members, clients, and communities.
- Create, implement and sustain internal structures, policies and practices that reflect WDA staff and Board’s common understanding of racial equity and justice. Support and provide leadership for WDA members and member offices to do the same.
- Develop programs that fully partner with communities to create systemic and individual change by expanding WDA’s capacity to recruit, support, and develop public defense leaders who can align with, and capitalize on, emerging trends to improve perceptions of public defense, our clients and our communities.
- Support and facilitate defenders in their efforts to provide more holistic, client-centered representation through effective community partnership and participation.
- Prioritize procurement of additional funds and resources to expand WDA’s capacity to achieve these strategic goals through means that more effectively support existing staff, grow board capacity and expand arenas of membership engagement to achieve these goals.
- Consistently evaluate our advocacy engagement, including legislative, amicus, policy and collaborative work, in order to reconfigure and implement delivery systems and means of engagement that maximize impact, develop member and staff leadership and commitment, and leverage member and staff expertise.