Can an Army of Young Attorneys Revolutionize Public Defense? Watch the Film Premiere on HBO

Scene from "Gideon's Army"
Scene from “Gideon’s Army”

“… with liberty and justice for all.”

It’s the final and defining line of the pledge we take as Americans. It’s at the heart of what public defenders across the country seek — justice for poor Americans faced with deprivation of liberty.

But the sheer volume of people in need of public defenders has skyrocketed in the past two decades, while funding for indigent defense has lagged far behind criminal justice spending for law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration. It’s little wonder the U.S. Attorney General has characterized public defense as being “in a state of crisis.”

Gideon’s Army is an award-winning documentary that follows three young public defenders fighting for their clients in the face of staggering caseloads. It debuts on HBO July 1st, 2013 at 8pm CT.

Watch this interview with Gideon’s Army filmmaker Dawn Porter on the Daily Show.

The lawyers in the film are mentored by Jon “Rap” Rapping, the leader of Gideon’s Promise –a training center for young public defenders practicing in the South. Their goal, quite simply, is to produce an army of attorneys prepared to reform public defense in the U.S.

This film hits close to home for those of us in the Law Offices of the Shelby County Public Defender. As we embark on our own journey to bring justice to a new generation of Memphians, our entire office has received client-centered training from Jon Rapping and we regularly send our own attorneys through the Gideon’s Promise program.

Watch the official film trailer. If you miss the July 1st premiere, check the HBO listings for other showtimes. Just search “Gideon’s Army” for times.