State Department Launches First-Ever Formal Partnership with a U.S. Public Defender

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 1, 2015


Today in Atlanta, Assistant Secretary of State for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) William R. Brownfield will launch a formal partnership between the Department of State and a U.S. public defender’s office, signing an agreement with Atlanta Judicial Circuit Public Defender Vernon Pitts. We are grateful to the Atlanta Judicial Circuit Public Defender’s Office and the Fulton County Board of Governors for their support in entering into this partnership.

Through this partnership INL will utilize the knowledge and experience of the Atlanta Public Defender’s staff in training and advising foreign justice sector personnel – crucial activities in helping partner nations to advance stability, the rule of law, and due process by strengthening their justice sectors. With the unique skills of Public Defender Pitts and his staff, the State Department can now offer partner countries desperately needed criminal defense expertise from current practitioners on the front lines of this work.

A strong and fair justice sector is a key factor in any country’s pursuit of rule of law, as well as its capacity to fight violent transnational crime. Because the improved ability to counter transnational crime promotes U.S. security, the future work of the Atlanta Public Defender under the terms of this partnership will provide a long-term benefit to our nation.

INL has established relationships with state and local law enforcement, corrections, prosecutorial, judicial, and other justice sector institutions across the United States, to strengthen the ability to provide criminal justice expertise overseas. Each state and local partner receives specialized training from the State Department, and develops key overseas relationships which can benefit their work in their own communities.

Please contact INL-PAPD@state.gov for more information. To receive updates on Assistant Secretary Brownfield’s Atlanta trip and INL’s work, follow @StateINL on Twitter and visit http://www.facebook.com/StateINL on Facebook.