Jr. Defenders: Making Positive Change!

We are super proud of our Junior Defenders at Gompers Middle School!


These young advocates have shown incredible dedication and teamwork by using collective resistance to push for better school lunches. Their efforts culminated in a powerful presentation to representatives from the Philadelphia School District.


Collective resistance is just one of the many initiatives we teach in our 6-week youth program. Through this program, students learn the importance of advocacy, community engagement, and standing up for their rights. The success of the Junior Defenders at Gompers Middle School is a testament to the impact of these lessons.


We believe that empowering youth with the skills to advocate for themselves and their communities is crucial. These young leaders have demonstrated that with the right tools and support, they can make meaningful changes in their schools and beyond.


Learn more about the Junior Defender program

Philly Defender wins Prestigious NLADA Honor

Congrats to our Juvenile Special Defense Chief Michelle Mason for winning a Kutak-Dodds award! Michelle was joined by Philly Defender colleagues when she received the award at the NLADA’s annual Exemplar Awards Gala in Washington, DC.



About the Award: NLADA bestows the Kutak-Dodds Prizes every year to honor the accomplishments of civil legal aid attorneys, public defenders, assigned counsel, or public interest lawyers who, through the practice of law, are significantly contributing to the enhancement of human dignity.


Learn more about the award here

2024 Father’s Day Bailout

This Father's Day, the Defender is working with Frontline Dads to bring home as many Father's as possible!


If your loved one's bail is under $50,000 and they have NO other detainers, they may qualify to be freed through the Father's Day Bailout program!


To apply for the Father's Day Bailout, please fill out the form below:


Fathers Day Bailout

Information form for participating in Frontline Dads' Fathers Day Bailout

Step 1 of 2

Client Name(Required)
Date of Birth(Required)

Case number & Bail Info

Please provide separate case numbers and bail amount for each case (if there's more than one).
Does the client have children?(Required)
Use whole numbers and separate with a comma if more than one child (example: 5, 12, 17)

Defender Association Response to Kensington “Sweep”

PHILADELPHIA–“The Defender Association fully realizes that immediate action is needed to address the conditions in Kensington. But the City’s May 8 “sweep” of homeless people signals a return to draconian and ineffective crime and drug policies. We are also troubled by the lack of communication we have received from the city in advance of these actions. This information vacuum is particularly concerning as it potentially compromises our ability to serve our clients.


“To be sure, the Defender Association and the Parker Administration have very different policy perspectives. We have long believed that it’s a bad idea to rely on the criminal legal system to solve a public health crisis. The unintended harms of the planned “jail vs. treatment” strategy outweigh any derived benefits for people in addiction. The city’s action’s also threaten to overwhelm the court and jail system, and will likely shift the current problem to other neighborhoods that haven’t been receiving the same amount of attention.


“Despite our efforts to be included in the discussions around Kensington, the Defender Association has received little information about the city’s plans. This is troubling because our office represents a significant percentage of adult men and women from Kensington. From 2017 to 2022 we provided services for nearly 12,000 clients from this neighborhood. Getting timely details about upcoming plans is critical for preparing our attorneys and social workers to serve what will undoubtedly be an uptick in cases stemming from the increased law enforcement activity.


“We can discuss and debate policy. But there’s no question that anyone arrested for a crime–in Kensington or elsewhere–has a right to legal counsel. As the city’s public defender, we feel it is incumbent upon the city to include our office in any discussion that relies so heavily on our justice system.”


“As we work toward solutions that will benefit everyone impacted by the activities in Kensington, the Defender Association looks forward to a more open dialogue with city officials and stakeholders.”


# # #

2024 Junior Defender Internships

Are you (or do you know)  a high school student who will be 18 before June 10, 2024? Do you want to learn about our criminal legal system while getting PAID? Apply to our Junior Defender Internship Program!


Junior Defenders will learn about our justice system through workshops; observing Philly’s courts in action; taking field trips and more. Click here to learn more about Junior Defenders. Watch the video below to hear from last year’s interns!



There are TWO internship sessions: June 10 – July 19, 2024; and July 22 – August 30, 2024.


Interested? Use the online form to apply TODAY for this internship opportunity! Application Deadline is Tuesday, April 30!
Questions? Contact Tamira McCurdy: tmccurdy@philadefender.org


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Defender FY 2025 Budget Testimony

FY 2025 Budget Request: More resources to support Philly's Youth!


On April 16, 2024, Chief Defender Keisha Hudson & Deputy Defender Sarah Allen testified before City Council about our request for a $15 million budget increase in FY 2025.


These funds would largely be dedicated to hiring more attorneys and social workers for our child and youth clients, as well as salary increases to bring our attorneys to parity with other city agencies.


Read the full budget testimony here


Download budget request slides


Support Letters for Philly Defenders Budget Proposal


The Defender Association is grateful for the amazing support we've received from our community partners, elected officials and other organizations working toward a better justice system, and public safety for all!


Community Support letter: over 20 organizations added their names to a letter in support of a budget increase for the work we do with justice system-involved children and youth.


Read the letter here


Philadelphia Bar Association letter: Thanks to the Philadelphia Bar Association for supporting our attorneys and the work we do all year round. We especially appreciate their support of our budget request


Read the Philly Bar Association's letter here.


Video: Defender Association Budget Testimony

Defender 90th Anniversary Highlights

On April 4, 2024, we’re celebrating 90 years of representing Philly adults and youth with a very special event at the Constitution Center. All are welcome to attend and celebrate along with the Defender’s past and present leaders, and many more elected officials and luminaries who began their careers at the Defender Association.


Help us celebrate 90 years of public defense in Philly, as we look to grow the next generation of Philly Defenders! Click the links below to learn how you can take part in the celebration!


Details, tickets and sponsorship information here


April is 2nd Chance Month!

April is 2nd chance month, and at the Defender, giving our clients a second chance at a better future is a year-long mission! In addition to providing high-quality legal representation in the courtroom, we offer opportunities and information on criminal record expungements and probation terminations. 

Adult Criminal Record Expungements

Expungement request are the primary request from our Philadelphia community. At every community event we attend we offer one-on-one expungement clinics with our staff attorneys. In 2019 alone, we filed 405 new expungement petitions and saw 438 of our petitions granted by the courts.


An expungement is an order that requires state and local criminal justice agencies to erase something from a record. We offer our clients the opportunity to apply for criminal record expungements using via our website. Defender attorneys also do in-person expungement applications at public events like Defender Days, criminal justice workshops, block parties and more.



Juvenile Record Expungements

Expungement request are the primary request from our Philadelphia community. At every community event we attend we offer one-on-one expungement clinics with our staff attorneys. In 2019 alone, we filed 405 new expungement petitions and saw 438 of our petitions granted by the courts.


An expungement order directs the court to treat the criminal conviction as if it had never occurred, removing it from a person’s public record. These court orders are not automatic – a petition must be filed to start the process. The Defender Association files these petitions for our clients.




Probation Termination

The Defender offers probation termination services for clients. To be eligible, clients MUST BE COMPLIANT with their probation conditions, including reporting to their probation officer, attending mandated treatment appointments and paying fines and fees (if able).



90th Anniversay Gala Sponsors & Supporters

The Defender Association of Philadelphia would like to thank all of the individuals, law firms and organizations who made our 90th Anniversary Gala possible, and a night to remember!

Platinum Sponsors:

Law Offices of MJ Snyder
Troutman Pepper
Cozen O'Connor


Silver Sponsors:

Paul & Missy Hetznecker
Philadelphia Bar Association
Catherine Recker & Matt Pappajohn
Hangley, Aronchick, Segal. Pudlin & Schiller
Ballard Spahr
Welsh & Recker
Marsh McLennan Agency
Jonathan & Diane Penneys Edelman
Welsh & Recker


Bronze Sponsors:

Kairys Rudovsky Messing Feinberg & Lin
Morgan Lewis Bockus
Jed Melnick
Weir Greenblatt Pierce
Klehr Harrison
Saul Ewing
Buchanan Ingersoll
James M. Becker
Independence Blue Cross

Brass Sponsors:

Bob and Betsy Fiebach
David Richman
Ahmad Zaffarese LLC
Dilworth Paxson LLP
Kathryn Cacciamani
Maron Deering
Luis Ortiz
Phyllis Subin
Duane Morris
SKA Law Group
Kreischer Miller
Community Behavioral Health
David Walker
Reliable Copy

Star Sponsors:

Roberta & Robert Liebenberg
Seer Interactive
Nancy Winkelman
Deborah Gross
Nialm Sanghvi
Lorena Ahumada
Brian Collins
Patrick Egan
Sam Silver
Thomas Kenny

Donors & Supporters:

Marc Alan Bookman
Michael and Jackie Schwartz
John Holloway
Lyn Davis
William Penn Foundation
Gregory Sleet
Suzanne Young
Robert Yablon
Shelley Shaw
Marianna Rossman
Brandi McLaughlin

Follow us: @PhillyDefenders