Since its founding ten years ago, NAPD has been a leading national voice on reducing public defense workloads. In light of new research and developments in public defense, NAPD has updated its previous guidance from 2015 and 2017, and adopted a new Policy Statement on Workloads.

Bob Boruchowitz and Kawan Clinton, Co-chairs of NAPD’s Workloads Committee, say: 

The NAPD Workloads Committee spent many months reviewing and revising the previous NAPD Statement on Workloads and is excited to share this updated Statement informed by the new National Public Defense Workload Study. We know that there have been many changes in public defense practice in the decades since the National Advisory Commission numbers were established. And we know that significant changes in the criminal legal system are necessary to expand diversion opportunities and reduce the number of life long sentences, and that we need to invest in education, housing, mental health, and substance abuse treatment to reduce the demand for defenders. Reducing the workload for defenders will make it possible for defenders to meet their constitutional obligations and in the process respond more effectively to the impact of racial disproportionality and race bias that remain in the criminal legal system.

Elizabeth Miller, Vice President of NAPD’s Board of Directors, says:

The new national workload standards were created in response to public defense case- and workload challenges across the nation. While not specifically created by NAPD, the NAPD supports the use of the new standards as a tool to advance criminal legal reform for all public defense teams and practitioners. The standards allow public defenders around the country to speak with a united voice about our pervasive resource shortages, which cause deep injustices and racial disparities in our communities. Most jurisdictions have been experiencing workload and retention issues for decades; as such and in response, NAPD developed this policy statement in an effort to support all public defense systems who are moving to address these issues. NAPD encourages each jurisdiction to develop practical workload reduction plans that work in your offices and communities as the standards show us that we have a long road ahead to meet our constitutional obligations. We must start now.

On April 19, the Workloads Committee is hosting a virtual Practical Learning Lab about strategies for using the workload study to advocate for expanding the supply of defenders and reducing the demand for their services.