Gideon’s Promise

Gideon’s Promise was founded as a nonprofit in 2007 by Jonathan Rapping as the Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC) with a fellowship from George Soros’ Open Society Foundations to answer the need for training and mentorship for public defenders working in under-resourced communities in the South. In 2010, the SPDTC received it’s 501 (c)(3) non-profit designation under the name Gideon’s Promise. The organization’s name was taken from the 1963 landmark case Gideon v. Wainwright in which the United States Supreme Court unanimously ruled that every person accused of a crime in America must be provided with a lawyer, regardless of their economic status or ability to pay.

Gideon’s Promise has since grown from a singular training program for 16 attorneys in two public defender offices in Georgia and Louisiana to a national organization with over 1,000 participants from 104 partner, statewide and affiliate offices across 29 states and the United States Virgin Islands. Initially a three-year program for new public defenders, Gideon’s Promise has expanded into a comprehensive program model that supports public defenders at all levels of their careers. The organization also serves as a critical pipeline between 22 distinguished law schools and its partner public defense offices, ensuring the next generation of public defenders. Twice a year, new lawyers, supervisors, chief defenders, trainers, and law students participate in the clinical instructor led curriculum of Gideon’s Promise.

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