Charis welcomes author and activist Jonathan Rapping, for a conversation with author Gilbert King in celebration of his new book, Gideon's Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice.
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 reveals the pervasive issues inherent in our current system of public defense, and lays the foundation for how model public defense programs should work to end mass incarceration.
Public defenders represent over eighty percent 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.
Order your signed copies of Gideon's Promise via the link below.
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Bio: Jonathan Rapping is the Founder and President of Gideon's Promise, an organization dedicated to changing the culture and practice of public defense in America. He was awarded a 2014 MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Fellowship for his work as a criminal justice innovator. Rapping is a Professor at Atlanta's John Marshall Law School and Harvard Law School. He lives in Atlanta, GA with his wife and their two children. Gideon's Promise is his first book.
Bio: Gilbert King is the author of three books, most recently, Beneath a Ruthless Sun. His previous book, Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction in 2013. King’s earlier book, The Execution of Willie Francis, was published in 2008. He is currently a fellow at The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, and he lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
A blueprint for criminal justice reform that lays the foundation for how model public defense programs should work to end mass incarceration.
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY NPR and THE WASHINGTON POST
On May 3, 1946, in St. Martinsville, Louisiana, a seventeen-year-old black boy was scheduled for execution by electric chair. Willie Francis had been charged with murder; his trial had been brief; his death sentence never in doubt. When the executioners flipped the switch, Willie screamed and writhed as electricity coursed through his body.
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“A must-read, cannot-put-down history.” — Thomas Friedman, New York Times