Our History

1963

1963

The landmark case, Gideon v. Wainwright, is decided. The United States Supreme Court unanimously rules that every person accused of a crime in America must be provided with a lawyer, regardless of their economic status or ability to pay.

2005

2005

Jonathan Rapping joins the effort to rebuild a public defender office in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, while also performing some indigent defense work in Alabama and Mississippi.

2007

2007

Gideon’s Promise is founded as a nonprofit by Jonathan Rapping under its former name the ‘Southern Public Defender Training Center (SPDTC),’ to answer the need for training and mentorship for public defenders working in under-resourced communities in the South.

2010

2010

The Southern Public Defender Training Center receives its 501 (c)(3) non-profit designation.

2013

2013

On Martin Luther King Day, the Southern Public Defender Training Center officially changes its name to ‘Gideon’s Promise,’ after the Gideon v. Wainwright landmark case. HBO’s Gideon’s Army premiers at the Sundance Film Festival and wins the Candescent Award.

2014

2014

Jonathan Rapping is awarded the MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant and Gideon’s Promise establishes a partnership with Maryland.

2015

2015

Gideon’s Promise has its first major publication in Essence Magazine.

2016

2016

After years of friendship and support from Congressman John R. Lewis, Gideon’s Promise was granted permission to name our annual Lifetime Achievement Award after the Congressman Lewis.

2022

2022

Gideon's Promise celebrates 15 years in the fight to end mass incarceration.

Protecting This Promise

You don't have to be a public defender to protect the promise of zealous counsel for all. Your monthly contribution--no matter the amount--will directly impact the fate of a defendant who didn't know they needed you.