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Letter to the Governor from the Director of the Public Defender System

Missouri's contempt for the rights of poor persons is further evident by its rank of 49 among 50 states in the amount of support provided for indigent defense. Existing caseloads coupled with abysmally low salaries for assistant public defenders create a turnover rate that exacerbates the resource issue.  

An Open Letter to Judge Conrad Hafen

Dear Conrad,

Is it ok if I call you Conrad? I noticed that you refer to the attorneys appearing before you by their first names, so I thought, since we're all officers of the court here, that it would be ok to leave off your honorifics.  

The Truth about How Public Defenders Handle Excessive Caseloads

In the recent article “The Truth about the Work and Talent of Public Defense Lawyers,” Andre Vitale argues that even though public defenders have excessive caseloads, through their determination and hard work, they manage to obtain the same outcomes for clients as private defense attorneys.  I have heard this belief expressed many times before and believed it myself while working as a public defender. I was convinced that despite my lack of resources and excessive caseload that I managed to effectively represent all of my clients. I was wrong.



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 

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.  


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.