Blog

"Witnessing a Fundamental Breach" - Testimony in Missouri

You got 20 minutes?  Have you been wondering what this Ferguson thing is all about?  Do yourself a favor and watch this video of three fine warriors and public defenders appear in front of of legislators and argue for justice for poor people.  
You got 20 minutes?  Have you been wondering what this Ferguson thing is all about?  Do yourself a favor and watch this video of three fine warriors and public defenders appear in front of of legislators and argue for justice for poor people.  

You can find it at this link.

While it's a bit grainy, what you will see is NAPD Steering Committee member and St. Louis University Law Professor Steve Hanlon say that "I have never seen a court system that so systematically preys on poor people as the municipal court system in much of St. Louis County...Not in Alabama, not in Louisiana, not in Mississippi..."  Later he said that "what we are witnessing is a fundamental breach in the very fabric of our society."

Watch more and you'll hear Thomas Harvey, Director of ArchCity Defenders, say that the municipal court system is "destroying our clients' lives," and that "our clients believe that they are being arrested because they are black."  He tells the Senators that his clients are being thrown into jail for offenses such as "turning right on red," and then being unable to pay a fine.  Those jails he describes as:  "filthy, with feces on the floor, undrinkable water, no showers..."  One client who had been ensnared in the system was jailed for failing to pay a fine and "by the time we got her out" she had lost her housing, missed a job interview, and her children were missing school.

And watch the end and hear Professor Brendan Roediger, St. Louis University Professor, describe a courtroom he visited where 30-40 black defendants were at the confinement docket, where the judge mocked them by saying, "what's the matter, nobody loves you" enough to pay $200?  He described 453,000 outstanding warrants in St. Louis County--more than in all of Cook County, Illinois.  

So do yourselves a favor.  Watch three champions of justice argue for justice for our clients.

Contributors

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.
​--

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

--
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. 
--

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
--