Professor Rapping Publishes Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice

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Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School (AJMLS) is proud to share that Professor Jonathan Rapping, Director of the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, has published Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice.

The book hit shelves this month and is a #1 New Release on Amazon. The book is described online as,

A blueprint for criminal justice reform that lays the foundation for how model public defense programs should work to end mass incarceration.

Combining wisdom drawn from over a dozen years as a public defender and cutting-edge research in the fields of organizational and cultural psychology, Jonathan Rapping proposes a radical cultural shift to a “fiercely client-based ethos” driven by values-based recruitment training, awakening defenders to their role in upholding an unjust status quo, and a renewed pride in the essential role of moral lawyering in a democratic society.

Public defenders represent over 80% of those who interact with the court system, a disproportionate number of whom are poor, non-white citizens who rely on them to navigate the law on their behalf. More often than not, even the most well-meaning of those defenders are over-worked, under-funded, and incentivized to put the interests of judges and politicians above those of their clients in a culture that beats the passion out of talented, driven advocates, and has led to an embarrassingly low standard of justice for those who depend on the promises of Gideon v. Wainwright.

However, rather than arguing for a change in rules that govern the actions of lawyers, judges, and other advocates, Rapping proposes a radical cultural shift to a “fiercely client-based ethos” driven by values-based recruitment and training, awakening defenders to their role in upholding an unjust status quo, and a renewed pride in the essential role of moral lawyering in a democratic society.

Through the story of founding Gideon’s Promise and anecdotes of his time as a defender and teacher, Rapping reanimates the possibility of public defenders serving as a radical bulwark against government oppression and a megaphone to amplify the voices of those they serve.

In addition to his book publication, he has been serving as Co-Chair to the Mayor’s Advisory Council on Use of Force. Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced seven Administrative Orders (AO) after receiving the Mayor’s Use of Force Advisory Council’s 45-day recommendations. The Advisory Council provided 33 recommendations spanning five areas of focus on policing practices: Mission, Vision, Values; Standard Operating Procedures; Governance; Community Partnerships; and Reporting and Transparency. The full report may be read here.

Thank you, Professor, for continuing to change the culture and practice of public defense in America. AJMLS students are afforded the very best criminal justice education from you.