Profile: michael.barrett

A native New Yorker, Barrett worked as a public defender in Albany, New York before moving into the political arena. He went on to receive several appointments, under New York Governors Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson, to positions in criminal justice and public safety, where he implemented policies that helped further reduce the state crime rate, which lead to the closing of multiple prisons. Recently, he served as Deputy General Counsel to Governor Jeremiah (Jay) Nixon. He moved to Missouri in 2011, and later joined the Office of Governor Jay Nixon as Deputy General Counsel. Barrett worked in the Missouri governorís administration for two years before accepting the position as General Counsel for the MO State Public Defender System. In May, Michael Barrett was sworn into office as the new director of Missouriís State Public Defender System. He was selected for the top spot by the Public Defender Commission in March. Barrett assumes leadership of a department that, at just shy of 380 attorneys, is one of the largest law firms in the state. Support and operations staff bringing the total number of employees up to 567. Last year, the organization was assigned over 75,000 new cases, ranging from misdemeanor traffic offenses up to and including death penalty cases, appeals, and post-conviction matters.




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.