Jonathan Rapping has trained public defenders in Georgia on how to represent their clients better.
Rapping says public defenders have the reputation of being overworked and not particularly invested in their clients or cases.
So, Rapping, a former public defender himself, founded the non-profit Gideon’s Promise to not only help counsel in Georgia but across the country.
He also wrote a book about his efforts to squash the lack of respect for the public defender attorney.
The name Gideon comes from the 1963 landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that states must provide an attorney to defendants who are unable to afford their own lawyer.
Rapping stopped by recently to visit WABE’s “Morning Edition” and spoke to the show host, Lisa Rayam.
He began the conversation by saying to Rayam that he thinks the “reason why we don’t respect public defenders because we don’t care about the lives of the people they serve. I think this book is really important to say, to make us say look if you care about what is happening in the streets, you have to also have to care about what’s happening in the courts.”
Rayam asked about changing the culture to get people to pay more attention to the lives and perils of the public defender.
Rapping said public defenders represent 80-90% of the people who are in our criminal legal system. “Because we don’t hear their voices. Then you recognize collectively public defenders have the power to lift up those voices and transform the narrative,” he said.