Rhode Island Public Defender

Our mission is to provide high quality representation to our clients, fulfilling the governmental obligation of effective assistance of counsel, fundamental fairness and due process. Our goal is to provide client-centered advice, holistic representation and zealous advocacy. Our commitment is to treat our clients with dignity, compassion and fairness.
Mary S. McElroy, Public Defender
Rhode Island Public Defender
160 Pine Street
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 222-3492


We strive to serve as a point of connection between our clients and community resources so that they can take proactive steps to address immediate needs as well as the root causes of crime. As part of this initiative, we maintain an active waiting room where we post job listings, community opportunities, information about the criminal justice system, pertinent newspaper articles and other information. The following are some of the resources we have found to be most helpful:

The Rhode Island Public Defender maintains a Community Service Guide (English | Espaņol) of places to do court-appointed community service. If you have suggestions of other places to do community service or feedback about this guide, contact Emmett Hardiman, the Community Outreach Liaison at (401) 458-3050.

OpenDoors offers a wide range of programs and resources for formerly incarcerated individuals and their families. These programs include job training classes, support groups, and a mentoring program.

Direct Action for Rights and Equality (DARE) runs a campaign that organizes the currently and formerly incarcerated to challenge and reform the criminal justice system. This campaign, called Behind the Walls, meets regularly and works on a broad spectrum of issues involving the criminal justice system.

Providence In-Town Churches Association (PICA) is a secular social services agency that works primarily with the homeless. PICA runs a food pantry, a soup kitchen, an SSI outreach program, and other services. PICA is also a site where many of our clients complete their community service.

2010 Providence Resource Guide. Created by Making Connections Providence and City of Providence, Office of Mayor Cicilline, United Way, and John Hope Settlement House, this compehrensive guide to social services, public benefits, and community resources, offers a thorough and contemporary guide to a broad range of opportunities in the City.

The Poverty Institute at Rhode Island College School of Social Works continually updates its Guide to Government Assistance Programs in the state. These programs range from Income Supports, Food Assistance, Health Care, Child Care, Housing, Utilities and Tax Credits.

Home Locator RI maintains a source of apartments for rent and RI United Way 2-1-1 maintains a help line and also faxes out daily a list of affordable housing.

The Rhode Island Coalition for the Homeless (RICH) manages two important documents for those new to homelessness in the state. The first it the Street Sheet, a one page, double-sided guide to shelters, food pantries, soup kitchens, health care, and other services. The second is the Street Rights Guide, a guide to encounters with the police in Providence.

The homeless newspaper Street Sights is also a resource for our clients. Street Sights is distributed in our waiting room and our office has been featured in one of its issues, which can be read here.

Copyright © 2013 Rhode Island Public Defender