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Cognitive Dissonance

There you have it. Mitchell, a young African-American man, charged with stealing a candy bar, dies in jail unable to make bond. The other, a Governor convicted of a felony, remains free of the constraints only jail or prison bring.  
Wikipedia defines cognitive dissonance as “In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

 So it was with me when I read two articles around the same time another.  The first article was published by Slate.  It tells the story of Jamycheal Mitchell. 
Mitchell, who was arrested in April for “stealing less than $5 worth of junk food (a Snickers bar, a Mountain Dew, and a Zebra Cake) from a 7-Eleven,”  was charged with petty larceny and trespassing.  The salient point is that bail was set at $3000, which he could not make.  He remained in jail under no bond.  Despite being ordered to a state mental hospital, he remained in jail, where in died on August 19. 

The second article, referred to in the first, was published by the Washington Post.  It tells the story of a convicted felon, the former Governor of Virginia, Robert F. McDonnell.  McDonnell had been sentenced to 2 years in prison on corruption charges.  He was out on bail pending appeal.  After his appeal was denied, he was ordered to report to prison.  He appealed to the US Supreme Court, which in an extraordinary act, allowed McDonnell stayed the mandate, allowing McDonnell to remain free pending his appeal. 

There you have it.  Mitchell, a young African-American man, charged with stealing a candy bar, dies in jail unable to make bond.  The other, a Governor convicted of a felony, remains free of the constraints only jail or prison bring.  I know, I know—there are “explanations” for both results.  But I keep thinking about both these things.

Cognitive dissonance.  I am confronted by information that “conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.”

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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)
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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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