This event will be held at Porter Square Books, and is free and open to the public.
Renowned journalist and legal commentator Emily Bazelon exposes the unchecked power of the prosecutor as a driving force in America’s mass incarceration crisis—and charts a way out. She is joined in conversation by national security and crisis management expert Juliette Kayyem.
The American criminal justice system is supposed to be a contest between two equal adversaries, the prosecution and the defense, with judges ensuring a fair fight. That image of the law does not match the reality in the courtroom, however. Much of the time, it is prosecutors more than judges who control the outcome of a case, from choosing the charge to setting bail to determining the plea bargain. They often decide who goes free and who goes to prison, even who lives and who dies. In Charged, Emily Bazelon reveals how this kind of unchecked power is the underreported cause of enormous injustice—and the missing piece in the mass incarceration puzzle.
Charged follows the story of two young people caught up in the criminal justice system: Kevin, a twenty-year-old in Brooklyn who picked up his friend’s gun as the cops burst in and was charged with a serious violent felony, and Noura, a teenage girl in Memphis indicted for the murder of her mother. Bazelon tracks both cases—from arrest and charging to trial and sentencing—and, with her trademark blend of deeply reported narrative, legal analysis, and investigative journalism, illustrates just how criminal prosecutions can go wrong and, more important, why they don’t have to.
Bazelon also details the second chances they prosecutors can extend, if they choose, to Kevin and Noura and so many others. She follows a wave of reform-minded D.A.s who have been elected in some of our biggest cities, as well as in rural areas in every region of the country, put in office to do nothing less than reinvent how their job is done. If they succeed, they can point the country toward a different and profoundly better future.
“Bazelon, cogent and clear-eyed as ever, lays out a welcome double-barreled argument: A prosecutorial shift toward mercy and fairness is crucial to healing our busted criminal justice system, and it’s already happening.”—Sarah Koenig, host of Serial
Emily Bazelon is a staff writer at The New York Times Magazine, the Truman Capote Fellow for Creative Writing and Law, and a lecturer at Yale Law School. Her previous book is the national bestseller Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy. She’s also a co-host of the Slate Political Gabfest, a popular weekly podcast. Before joining the Times Magazine, Bazelon was a writer and editor at Slate, where she co-founded the women’s section “DoubleX.” She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
Juliette Kayyem is one of the nation’s leading experts in homeland security. A former member of the National Commission on Terrorism, and the state of Massachusetts’ first homeland security advisor, Kayyem served as President Obama’s Assistant Secretary at the Department of Homeland Security where she handled crises from the H1N1 pandemic to the BP Oil Spill. Presently a faculty member at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, she also is the founder of Kayyem Solutions, LLC, one of the nation’s only female-owned security advising companies, and CEO and co-founder of Grip Mobility. Kayyem is a security analyst for CNN, a weekly show contributor on WGBH, Boston’s NPR station, and the host of the podcast Security Mom, also produced by WGBH. In 2013, she was the Pulitzer Prize finalist for her columns in The Boston Globe. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, Kayyem lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and three children.
Be the Change is PSB's civic engagement program to provide the resources to those who want to make change at all levels of government and in society in general. Click here for more information about Be the Change.