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Archive February 2017

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White Privilege... In My Life

Only when the Black Lives Matter movement formed and brought the issue of racial inequities back to the light and forefront of the national conversation did I start to see it.  I listened to what they were saying.  I mean I really listened.  I cringed at the truths being spoken, I wanted to deny them because they are horrible but I could not.  I’m not only speaking of white privilege but the way POC (people of color) are and have been treated by society, the government and fellow citizens.

Because He Was Wrong on So Much...

I am proud of the fact that the NAPD Steering Committee voted to oppose the nomination of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General of the United States.  I am proud that NAPD disregarded the obvious—that in a US Senate controlled tightly 52-48, and in a system where party loyalty and discipline mean more than voting on the merits, it was virtually impossible for Sessions not to become the Attorney General. 

New Study Spotlights Extremely Heavy Workloads in Louisiana's Public Defender System

On February 17, 2017, the American Bar Association and the Louisiana-based accounting and consulting firm Postlethwaite & Netterville released findings Friday of a joint study of workloads of state public defenders in Louisiana.

On Humiliation and Juvenile "Justice"

I looked over and I saw him shaking. I put my hand on his shoulder and said “don’t worry – you’re going to get out. The judge is going to let you out.” He stared down at his feet. I really didn’t know what to do or say. I wanted to just stand up and yell TIME OUT! WE NEED A BREAK. 

Race Judicata - January Issue

As we begin a new year and a new administration, many are reflecting on the ongoing movement to end mass incarceration. Marc Mauer, executive director of The Sentencing Projectassessed President Obama’s contributions, which included the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010, the use of prosecutorial discretion and executive clemency for people charged with federal drug offenses, and easing of barriers to reentry. 

A Morning in Juvenile Court: A Silver Lining to a Haunting Election Day

The DA’s office still wants to prosecute my new client as an adult.  But now, Prop 57 requires that they work for that opportunity.  The entire framework has changed. 

Balancing the Scales: Judge Waives Fees for Indigent Defendants

Since winning the election in November 2016, Judge Cummings has already made efforts to balance the scales. He has declared that he will waive all fees for deserving indigent defendants

Supreme Court cautions lower courts against expanding qualified immunity

“Clearly established law” for qualified immunity purposes cannot be defined at a “high level of generality,” but must be “particularized” to the facts of a case, the Court ruled.

Legalize Drugs: Divert Addiction out of Criminal Court

He explained that he was not opposed to pleading guilty or serving time in jail if we could convince the judge or Government to offer a lower sentence, but he had other concerns beyond jail time. He needed to get his eyes examined. He was losing his vision and needed cataract surgery. His health insurance was only valid for a few more months. His brother, on the other side of the state, was dying of liver failure. Every time he talked about his brother, his eyes filled up with tears.

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NAPD News

April 16, 2017: 60 Minutes' Anderson Cooper features the Orleans Public Defenders and NAPD General Counsel in a substantive segment about public defenders' excessive workloads, pervasive injustice, and the obligation of defenders to resist the "conveyer belt" of mass-incarceration. You can watch the compelling segment HERE 
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On March 18, 2017 - the 54th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainright decision - NAPD published its Foundational Principleswhich are recommended to NAPD members and other persons and organizations interested in advancing the cause of equal justice for accused persons.  

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On March 2, 2017, NAPD released its Statement on Reducing Demand For Public Defense: Alternatives to Traditional Prosecution Can Reduce Defender Workload, Save Money, and Reduce RecidivismThere are more than 2 million people in jail and prison in the United States. This is a four-fold increase since 1980. This increase and the racial disproportionality among incarcerated people has led to alliances across the political spectrum to address the impact on people and on budgets.  As the new Coalition for Public Safety has put it, “Our country has an ‘overcriminalization’ problem and an ‘overincarceration’ problem — and it’s getting worse." NAPD authored this statement because there is a great opportunity to make transformative changes that can improve justice and save money.  A variety of organizations representing a wide spectrum of political views have joined together to end the systematic problem of overcriminalization and narrow the net of incarceration by reforming criminal codes.