Alec Karakatsanis, Co-Founder, Equal Justice Under Law

The American Criminal Injustice System In an Age of Mass Human Caging

Wed, 04/06/2016
Location TBA
Graduate Students
Policy Students

The Program in Law and Public Affairs invites MPP/MPA students to join us for "Law in the Public Service: Not Just for Lawyers," where our guest will be Alec Karakatsanis, Co-Founder of Equal Justice Under Law.    

This event is by invitation only. If interested, please e-mail

A basic principle of our legal system is that no human being should be put in a jail cell solely because s/he cannot make a payment.  Every night in America, there are 500,000 human beings in jail cells solely because they cannot pay money bail.  There are tens of thousands more people in jail because they cannot pay their court debts.  As a society, we have lost sense of the everyday brutality inherent in this system.  Come hear about how we can use civil rights laws to challenge these and other systemic injustices in our criminal legal system and contribute to a growing movement to re-sensitize our legal system and our society to the trauma that they inflict.

Alec Karakatsanis is the co-founder of Equal Justice Under Law, which provides pro bono legal services to those most in need, focusing on the systemic issues that create unjustifiable inequalities by engaging in litigation and advocacy to reform the structures, norms and incentives that perpetuate violations of fundamental rights.  Before co-founding this venture, Karakatsanis was a civil rights lawyer and public defender with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia.  Prior to this he was federal public defender in Alabama, representing impoverished people accused of federal crimes.  He has authored several law review articles including, most recently, Policing, Mass Imprisonment, and the Failure of American Lawyers in the 2015 Harvard Law Review.  He graduated from Yale College with a degree in Ethics, Politics and Economics, and from Harvard Law School, where he was a Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review. Karakatsanis is currently a Big Brother/Big Sister mentor and Co-Chair of the American Bar association committee on Pretrial Justice.