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Publisher's Summary

Alec Karakatsanis is interested in what we choose to punish. For example, it is a crime in most of America for poor people to wager in the streets over dice; dice-wagerers 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.

He 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. Usual Cruelty is a profoundly radical reconsideration of the American "injustice system" by someone who is actively, wildly successfully, challenging it.

©2019 Alec Karakatsanis (P)2020 Tantor

What listeners say about Usual Cruelty

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  • Overall
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Excellent narrator, life-changing material.

Alec Karakatsanis is one of startlingly few law professionals willing to question what exactly we mean by “justice” in the United States. If you have suffered as a result of the prison industrial complex you will find validation for familiar problems. If you haven’t, it’s a wake-up call.

1 person found this helpful

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A very insightful must read.

The title says it all really, This is one book I will almost certainly have to read again and will reccomend.

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Thought provoking waterfall of insights

I usually avoid books that are just a collection of short stories or essays but this one stands alone as a solid entry. I found myself shaking my head over and over throughout this book at the flagrant miscarriages of justice highlighted herein.

Narration was also very good.

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No Solutions

Identifies problems with the current system and makes an emotional plea for these things to change but doesn't offer any practical solutions or ways that the general public can help.

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a MUST READ FOR EVERY AMERICAN!!

I loved it and hated it. I am ashamed to admit I live in this sort of society. I wish there was something more I could do.

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A MUST READ FOR ALL CITIZENS

This is a must read for all citizens who blithely believe that we have equal criminal justice in this nation. Not only does the author eloquently and persuasively prove that we do we not, but his excellent book demonstrates how desperately far we are from true justice.

In the 21st century we can prevail before the U.S. Supreme Court were the state to attempt to burn our pamphlet on the right to worship beetles as gods of the universe, but we don’t even broach or approach a genuine and searching discussion of the wisdom, practicality, efficacy or fairness of caging 2.3 million Americans right this second or the admission of 12 million of our fellow citizens to jails and prisons each calendar year.

Ettore J. Angelo, Esquire