Episode 2 – The New Civil Rights Movement: Criminal Justice Reform

On This Episode

This episode of Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast explores criminal justice as this generation’s civil rights movement. Host Jonathan Rapping speaks with three experts – James Forman, Jr, Pulitzer Prize Winning Author and Professor of Law, Yale Law School; Heather Pinckney, Director of Training, Black Public Defender Association and Gideon’s Promise Faculty Member; and David Singleton, Executive Director, Ohio Justice &  Policy Center and Gideon’s Promise Faculty Member – about the history of criminal justice in America, criminal justice reform and how past criminal justice policies impacted the black community.

Episode Transcript: Here


About The Guests


James Forman Jr. is J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School. Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. His particular interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions. Forman previously taught at Georgetown Law and served as an attorney for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Forman’s first book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, was on many top 10 lists, including the New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2017, and was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. He is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School.

James Foreman’s website:

James Foreman on Twitter


Heather Pinckney is currently a partner at Harden & Pinckney, PLLC in Washington. D.C., a boutique law firm specializing in criminal defense litigation, civil litigation, contract and family law. Before entering into private practice, Pinckney served as the Deputy Chief of the Trial Division for the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia,widely recognized as the premier public defender office in the country. She holds a B.A. from Marymount University and a J.D. from George Washington University School of Law.  Pinckney currently serves as Director of Skills Based Training and founding member of the Black Public Defender Association and is a faculty member for Gideon’s Promise and the National Criminal Defense College.

Heather Pinckney’s website

Heather Pinckney on Facebook


David Singleton is Executive Director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, a nonprofit, public-interest law firm located in Cincinnati, Ohio that works to substantially reduce the size and racial disparity of Ohio’s prison population, as well as to protect the rights and dignity of incarcerated people. Singleton previously practiced at Thompson Hine and as a public defender for seven years, first with the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem and then with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. Singleton received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his A.B. in Economics and Public Policy from Duke University. Singleton is a Professor of Law at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law and also serves on the faculty of Gideon’s Promise. He was instrumental in cultivating a partnership with Gideon’s Promise and the Hamilton County Public Defender in Cincinnati, OH.

David Singleton’s website

David Singleton on Twitter

You’ll Learn About

  • History of criminal justice in America and how did we get here?
  • Criminal justice reform as this generation’s Civil Rights Movement—Is public defender work civil rights work?
  • How did past criminal justice policies hurt the black community, how can it be repaired and who is leading the charge?

Gideon’s Promise: The Podcast can be found on SoundCloudApple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube and at the Gideon’s Promise Website.


Further Reading

Gideon’s Promise: A Public Defender Movement to Transform Criminal Justice (2020) by Jonathan Rapping (Pre-order).

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017) by James Foreman, Jr.