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NAPD Statement on Michael Brown and Eric Garner

Our system of justice is broken.  It is racially biased to a degree that it is unworthy of public confidence. This lack of confidence is now being experienced on a grand scale in jurisdictions across the country, creating an urgent need to address the many unfair policies that oppress all people of color and every community of color in this country.

This is NAPD's statement on the recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island and Cleveland, submitted with the full support of the NAPD Steering Committee.

The recent deaths of African American males in Ferguson, New York City and Cleveland at the hands of the police are deeply disturbing.  Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice have, sadly, in death, become household names.  Their deaths have fueled a national conversation that is long overdue.  The disparate, and in these cases deadly, impact experienced by people of color in our criminal justice system has gone unchecked for far too long.  It should come as no surprise that people have taken to the streets all over America to express their outrage. 


To consider these tragedies only as a result of brutally disparate policing practices is to ignore the racially biased locomotion of our criminal justice system at every stage – from the moment of arrest through charging decisions, appointment of counsel, determination of bail, plea negotiations, jury selection and sentencing.  Beginning pre-arrest, and at every step in the process thereafter, men, women and children of color are treated differently, and more harshly.  

That neither Officer Wilson in Ferguson or Officer Pantaleo in New York City was indicted by the grand jury, while literally hundreds of thousands of African Americans are indicted each year, all across the country, on far less evidence, is a national disgrace.  

That people of color facing criminal charges overwhelmingly depend on public defenders for their constitutional right to counsel, and that virtually every single public defender office in the country is so severely underfunded that it is in a state of crisis is but another manifestation of the inherent racism of the American justice system. 

Our system of justice is broken.  It is racially biased to a degree that it is unworthy of public confidence. This lack of confidence is now being experienced on a grand scale in jurisdictions across the country, creating an urgent need to address the many unfair policies that oppress all people of color and every community of color in this country.

The deaths of two black men and a black child in Ferguson, New York City and Cleveland – and the lack of accountability for the white officers who killed them - have stirred our national conscience.  We must now turn our outrage and anger into meaningful and lasting reform. This reform must address the endemic racism throughout the system, including grand jury reform, over-criminalization, racially selective policing and profiling, and police militarization, while also ending the practice of government and private companies profiting from the assessment of crushing fines and fees, disparate bail and sentencing treatment, and prison policies that devastate entire communities of color, all but ensuring their perpetual subjugation by edict of an unjust system.

Public defenders are the most consistent witness to the individual and systemic unfairness of our justice system. The nearly 9,000 public defenders and defender-advocates of the National Association for Public Defense stand ready to join with others fighting for justice in furtherance of a fair and equitable criminal justice system.

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NAPD News

December 15, 2018: Registration is now open for NAPD's Spring Events:
  • Executive Leadership Insitute (Frankfort, KY)
  • Train the Trainer (Frankfort, KY)
  • "We the Defenders" Investigators Conference (Biloxi, MS)
  • "We the Defenders" Social Workers/Sentencing AdvocatesConference (Biloxi, MS)
  • Team Mitigation Institute (Atlanta, GA)
Click on Events Tab for more info and to register.
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October 30, 2018: NAPD releases a video about its achievements over the 5 years since forming in November in 2013. This films was coordinated by NAPD Steering Committee Member and San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi and debuted at the Racial Justice Training and 5 Year Celebration in Baltimore, Maryland. You can watch the video HERE

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July 1, 2018: General Registration opens for the “WE THE DEFENDERS” TRAINING CONFERENCE,  November 26-29, 2018, Indianapolis, IN

You can watch a video about the event HERE 

Due to overwhelming demand, NAPD will again offer this comprehensive Investigator and Social Worker/Sentencing Advocate training experience! The program will include one track for Investigators and a separate track for Social Worker/Sentencing Advocates.  Hear from nationally recognized experts who will share their knowledge on a wide range of topics relevant to the work you do each and every day.  Network with other criminal defense practitioners from around the country and find your tribe. 
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January 23, 2018: In response to US Attorney General Jeff Session's reversal of prior policy on the imposition of fines and fees for criminal defendants, NAPD submitted the following letter on behalf of the public defender community. You can read the letter HERE
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