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Profile: ernie.lewis

Ernie Lewis received his undergraduate degree from Baylor University in 1969, a Masters of Divinity from Vanderbilt University in 1973, and a Juris Doctoris (J.D.) from Washington University in 1977. He was a VISTA Volunteer in Minnesota in 1970. He was with the Department of Public Advocacy from 1976 until 2008 in several different capacities, including appellate lawyer, local assistance branch manager, directing attorney of the Richmond Trial Office, and Regional Manager for the Central Kentucky Region. He was appointed Kentucky Public Advocate in 1996, overseeing the statewide public defender system, and served in that capacity until 2008 when he retired from state government. Since 1985, he has been on the faculty of the National College of Criminal Defense located at Mercer Law School in Macon, Georgia. He served for two years as Chair of the American Council of Chief Defenders from 2006-2007. He has worked on indigent defense issues with various groups in Georgia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Texas, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Louisiana. In 2000, he was named Outstanding Lawyer by the Kentucky Bar Association. In 2007, he was given the Champion of Indigent Defense Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. In 2008, he was given the Chief Justice’s Special Service Award. He received the Department of Public Advocacy’s Professionalism and Excellence Award in 2003 and the Nelson Mandela Award in 2009. He is now active in teaching public defenders, consulting, representing an occasional client, and advocating for the Kentucky Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers before the Kentucky General Assembly. Since January of 2014, he has been serving as the Executive Director of the National Association for Public Defense.

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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.