Statement of Purpose

The National Association for Public Defense (NAPD) engages all public defense professionals into a clear and focused voice to address the systemic failure to provide the constitutional right to counsel, and to collaborate with diverse partners for solutions that bring meaningful access to justice for poor people.

In 2013, fifty years after the United States Supreme Court recognized the right to counsel as “fundamental and necessary,” NAPD formed an inclusive association of public defense practitioners to address the tragedy of the unfulfilled promise of fairness in America’s criminal courts. Through affordable dues, relevant benefits and accessible real-life expertise, NAPD currently unites 15,000+ practitioner-members across the country into a cohesive and irrepressible community capable of bringing justice to a broken system.

NAPD is an association of practitioners. With no full-time staff, members are the heart and substance of the association. As public defense experts, NAPD has the intellectual capital, force of numbers and mechanisms for collaboration to lead the movement to finally deliver access to justice, as well as overcome the flawed policies that disenfranchise huge populations across specific communities – particularly communities of color. On a daily basis, NAPD members across all 50 states share their education materials, outreach plans, communications, technical assistance, amicus/litigation resources, policy positions, leadership skills, and research and analysis methods in order to leverage the tools for change for the people in the places that need them most. Stronger together, NAPD consolidates enormous talent, energy and potential for justice reform.

NAPD includes every professional who is critical to delivering the right to counsel: lawyers, social workers, case managers, investigators, sentencing advocates, paralegals, civil legal aid providers, education advocates, expert support, information technology gurus, teachers and trainers, financial professionals, researchers, legislative advocates, communications personnel, and administrative personnel. Our collective expertise represents state, county and local systems through full-time, contract, and assigned counsel delivery mechanisms; dedicated juvenile, capital and appellate offices; and through a diversity of traditional and holistic practice models.

You can access the original concept paper, drafted during the period immediately around the very first NAPD meeting in October 2013, in Dayton, Ohio.

For more information, explore NAPD’s Foundational Principles.


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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