Alumnus' Organization Profiled in Gideon's Army Documentary

Jonathan Rapping, JD '95, is the leader and founder of Gideon's Promise, an Atlanta-based organization committed to building a generation of public defenders in the nation’s most-broken systems to lead the effort in making equal justice a reality for all. Rappings' organization was spotlighted recently in the documentary, Gideon's Army.

Gideon's Army follows Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander, and June Hardwick, three young public defenders who are part of a small group of idealistic lawyers in the Deep South challenging the assumptions that drive a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point. Backed by mentor Jonathan "Rap" Rapping, a charismatic leader who heads Gideon's Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender Training Center), they struggle against long hours, low pay, and staggering caseloads. Nearly 50 years since the landmark Supreme Court ruling Gideon vs. Wainwright that established the right to counsel, can these courageous lawyers revolutionize the way America thinks about indigent defense and make "justice for all" a reality?

Rapping's organization, Gideon’s Promise, offers a comprehensive curriculum designed specifically for public defenders that is geared toward improving of indigent defense representation and raising the standard of practice in jurisdictions nationwide. The group often provides emotional support in addition to practical instruction.

As Rapping, also an Associate Professor of Law and the Director of the Honors Program in Criminal Justice at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School, states in a Gideon's Promise seminar:

"This will be a battle that will be won, and your children will look back on this struggle to save people from this unjust, cruel, inhumane criminal justice system. And you all will be the foot soldiers, you will be the ones who brought that about."

Project Aims To Attract, Train Public Defenders
Gideon’s Promise president and founder
Jonathan Rapping, JD ‘95, was recently profiled
in The National Law Journal.
(photo by Zachary D. Porter/ALM)

Directed by Dawn Porter and produced by Dawn Porter and Julie Goldman, the film debuted at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival last winter and on HBO last summer.  The film is an official selection of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival; winner of the Editing Award: US Documentary Competition; and winner of the Tribeca Film Institute's Creative Promise Award.  To learn more about the documentary, issues, and people in this story, visit the Gideon's Army film website

Please visit the Gideon’s Promise website to learn more about this transformative organization and the work of its community of public defenders.