Alec Karakatsanis on His New Book “Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System”
Where: Revolution Books
437 Malcolm X Blvd./Lenox Ave. @132nd St
212-691-3345 Price: By donation
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Carl Dix will be in conversation with Alec Karakatsanis.
Alec Karakatsanis is interested in what society chooses to punish. For example, it is a crime in most of America for poor people to wager in the streets over dice; dice-wagers can be seized, searched, have their assets forfeited, and be locked in cages. It’s perfectly fine, by contrast, for people to wager over international currencies, mortgages, or the global supply of wheat.
Alec Karakatsanis is also troubled by how the legal system works when it is trying to punish people. The bail system, for example, is meant to ensure that people return for court dates. But it has morphed into a way to lock up poor people who have not been convicted of anything. He’s so concerned about this that he has personally sued court systems across the country, resulting in literally tens of thousands of people being released from jail when their money bail was found to be unconstitutional.
Karakatsanis doesn’t think people who have gone to law school, passed the bar, and sworn to uphold the Constitution should be complicit in the mass caging of human beings—an everyday brutality inflicted disproportionately on the bodies and minds of poor people and people of color and for which the legal system has never offered sufficient justification.
“[Usual Cruelty is] a devastating indictment of the legal profession by one of our most important young lawyers, Usual Cruelty cuts to the core of what is critical to understand about our legal system, and about ourselves. Every law student and lawyer should read this book.”
—Anthony D. Romero, executive director, ACLU
Usual Cruelty is available at Revolution Books in Harlem, or at RB’s online store here.
Read an excerpt from Usual Cruelty about the money bail system in Time magazine.
Alec Karakatsanis is a former public defender. He is the founder of the Civil Rights Corps, an organization designed to advocate for racial justice and bring systemic civil rights cases on behalf of impoverished people. He was named the 2016 Trial Lawyer of the Year by Public Justice, and was awarded by Gideon’s Promise for contributions to indigent defense in the South.
Carl Dix is a co-initiator with Cornel West of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network; a founding member of RefuseFascism.org; and a follower of the revolutionary leader Bob Avakian.Buy tickets/get more info now