Episode 1 – The Critical Role of Public Defenders in Transforming Justice

On This Episode

This inaugural episode of Gideon’s Promise explores the critical role public defenders play in the criminal justice system as they address a wide range of issues facing marginalized communities. Host Jonathan Rapping speaks with three experts – Raj Jayadev, Co-Founder, Silicon Valley De-Bug; Josie Duffy Rice, President, The Appeal; and Scott Hechinger, Senior Advisor, The Justice Collaborative &  Director, Zealous – about public defenders critical roles in the ongoing struggle for justice beyond courtrooms, how they can help reframe the media’s perception of public defenders and how their role is further highlighted in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.



About The Guests

Raj Jayadev is community organizer creating a model of grassroots collective action that gives individuals facing incarceration, their families, and their communities an active role in their defense. He is Co-Founder of Silicon Valley De-Bug, a storytelling, community organizing and advocacy organization based in San Jose, California. De-Bug created the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project, a “participatory defense” model that brings community organizing principals to criminal justice reform. Jayadev was awarded a MacArthur “Genius”  Grant in 2018 for his work helping those facing incarceration, their families and communities.

Raj Jayadev’s Website


Josie Duffy Rice is the President of The Appeal, a digital platform that amplifies stories about criminal justice and the host of Justice in America, a podcast that features leading voices in the criminal justice arena. The podcast was nominated for a Webby Award in the category of Crime & Justice podcasts in 2020. As a journalist, Duffy Rice has primarily focused on prosecutors, prisons, and other criminal justice issues. Her writing has been featured in the New York Times, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and Slate, among others. She is working on a book about the fundamental impulses and instinctive emotions that drive mass incarceration.

Josie Duffy Rice’s Website

Josie Duffy Rice on Twitter


Scott Hechinger is the Founder and Director for Zealous, a national initiative that activates, trains, and supports public defenders, in partnership with local organizations and the people and communities defenders serve to move their advocacy outside the court. For nearly a decade, Scott served as a public defender in Brooklyn and shared his perspective outside of court in a variety of media to shift the narrative and drive systemic change. Scott served for years as Director of Policy at Brooklyn Defender Services, co-founded the Brooklyn Community Bail Fund, and designed multiple new media advocacy films and campaigns. Scott speaks widely, guest lectures at law schools and universities, and his work and commentary are regularly featured in a range of outlets.

Scott Hechinger on Twitter

You’ll Learn About

  • Public defenders as critical to the struggle for justice.
  • Public defenders as part of the national conversation on criminal justice reform.
  • The role public defenders are playing in the COVID-19 pandemic.

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).

The New York Times; 9/25/19; https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/25/opinion/mandatory-minimum-sentencing.html

The New York Times; 10/31/18; https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/31/opinion/election-voting-rights-fraud-prosecutions.html

De-Bug: Voices from the Underside of Silicon Valley (2016) by Raj Jayadev.