To our members and friends,

I’m excited to share our 2023 Annual Report with you. We have been so busy over the past few years that we have found it difficult to find the time to reflect on all we do. But this year is worthy of a special celebration. 2023 marks sixty years since Gideon vs. Wainwright, the Supreme Court case that established the constitutional right to public defense.

2023 also marks ten years since NAPD began. We started with only 30 people. No funding, no staff, no structure; just a passionate group of advocates with an idea whose time had come. They envisioned a national, grassroots network of public defense professionals of all types, sharing resources and building movements for change online. Here we are now, over 25,000 members strong, in all 50 states and 3 U.S. territories.

Just this year, we have trained thousands of public defense attorneys, social workers, investigators, and more at national conferences, on-site technical assistance visits, and virtual monthly meet-ups. We’ve hosted timely work sessions on urgent issues like recruitment, wellness, diversity, and workloads (and often found them to be deeply interconnected). We’ve been a voice for reform at meetings with the newly restored Office for Access to Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice. And we’ve advanced significant research on public defense systems for the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

At the same time, we have transformed how NAPD does business. We’ve updated our technology platforms, improved our governance and finance processes, and diversified our leadership. This behind-the-scenes work is hard, but it shows just how far we’ve come and will help us grow for another ten years.
Of course, none of this happens without your dedication. As much as we’ve grown, we’re still the fierce, unruly, compassionate public defenders we’ve always been at heart. I’m looking forward to another year, another fight, another milestone celebration, with all of you.

Thank you,

Lori James-Townes
Executive Director, NAPD