Alec Karakatsanis

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.

News and Reviews


Read an excerpt from Usual Cruelty about the money bail system in Time magazine.

The Unusual Fund for Usual Cruelty

The New Press is proud to support an innovative book donation concept, the brainchild of Alec Karakatsanis, author of 


Usual Cruelty lays out a compelling and damning  argument that lawyers play a central role in rendering the criminal legal system unjust….[Its] exposition of ‘the chasm between the law as it is written and the law as it is lived’ should be familiar to all lawyers, as should the pursuit of

Publishers Weekly

“A fiery indictment of America’s criminal justice system [and a] provocative cri de coeur.”

Books by Alec Karakatsanis

Usual Cruelty
The Complicity of Lawyers in the Criminal Injustice System

Alec Karakatsanis