Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System

Alec Karakatsanis discusses his new book, Usual Cruelty. This impassioned, hard-hitting text uncovers the injustices inherent to our legal system, and how it’s wielded not to enforce justice and public safety, but to criminalize the poor and reap profit. A former public defender, he quit his job to take on the radical project of suing court systems across the country for the widespread constitutional violations endemic in the legal system. He also founded the Civil Rights Corps, which challenged the money bail system in Harris County, Texas and secured the release of almost thirteen thousand people within months.

A former public defender, Alec Karakatsanis 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 the Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South by Gideon’s Promise. The author of Usual Cruelty: The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System (The New Press), he lives in Washington, DC.