President and Founder

President and Founder

Jonathan Rapping

small twitter logoLinkedIn-logo-small


Rap at DACJonathan Rapping is the President and Founder of Gideon’s Promise. Jon is the Director of the Honors Program in Criminal Justice at Atlanta’s John Marshall Law School, where he also teaches criminal law and criminal procedure. He is also a Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School where he helps to run its prestigious Trial Advocacy Workshop.  

He is the former Training Director of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS), an office nationally known for its training program.  Following his tenure at PDS, in 2004 Jon became the first Training Director of Georgia’s new state-wide public defender system. In that capacity he was responsible for designing training programs for both legal and non-legal staff statewide. Jon then became the Director of Training and Recruitment for the Orleans Public Defenders, where he was integral in the efforts to rebuild the public defender system in post-Katrina New Orleans. 

In recognition of his work in New Orleans, he was a co-recipient of the prestigious Lincoln Leadership Award, given by Kentucky’s Department of Public Advocacy to honor leadership in national efforts to improve indigent defense. Jon has trained public defenders all over the country, and was awarded a Soros Justice Advocacy Fellowship to develop Gideon’s Promise.

In 2009, Jon was named a Wasserstein Public Interest Fellow by the Harvard Law School Office of Public Interest in recognition of his contribution to the public interest through his work with the Gideon’s Promise.  In 2013 Jon and Gideon’s Promise were awarded the Sentencing Project Award from the National Association of Sentencing Advocates and Mitigation Specialists and the Gideon’s Promise Award from the Southern Center for Human Rights.  Also that year he was invited to serve as the Public Interest Scholar in Residence at Touro Law School in recognition of his work with Gideon’s Promise.


Jon has published articles on the importance of changing organizational culture in order to effectuate indigent defense reform and on the need to focus on recruitment, training, and mentoring in an effort to impact cultural transformation.

National Crisis, National Neglect: Realizing Justice Through Transformative Change

Street Crimes, Stress, And Suggestion: Helping The Jury See What The Witness Did Not

Who’s Guarding the Henhouse? How the American Prosecutor Came to Devour Those He is Sworn to Protect

Redefining Success as a Public Defender: A Rallying Cry for Those Most Committed to Gideon’s Promise