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Mon 9/11, 2023, 7:30pm
Jocelyn Simonson with Emily Thuma
The Power of the People


How can we fix the problems in our criminal justice system?

In a feat that can seem insurmountable, a common approach is to leave the solution to experts and technocrats. But what if, instead of deferring solely to their knowledge, some of this much-needed change was carried out by the people?

In her new book Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration, former attorney and law professor Jocelyn Simonson tells the stories of ordinary people joining together in collective acts of resistance: paying bail for a stranger, using social media to inform the public about courtroom proceedings, making a video about someone’s life for a criminal court judge, and other acts. When people join together to contest what we have been taught about justice and safety, they challenge the ideas that prosecutions and prisons make us safer.

Through collective action, these groups seek to create change from within, reframing ideas of what justice can look like and showing the vital role that grassroots efforts and participatory democracy can play in not only balancing power, but in addressing the moral shortcomings of our modern carceral state and transforming the current systems of policing, criminal law, and prisons.

Jocelyn Simonson is a former public defender, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School, and the leading national authority on community bail funds. Her work has been cited by the Supreme Court and discussed in The Atlantic, the New Yorker, and the Associated Press, and she has written for the New York TimesThe Nationn+1, the Washington Post, and others. Radical Acts of Justice (The New Press) is her first book. She lives in New York City.

Emily Thuma is an associate professor of politics and law in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington Tacoma. She is the author of the award-winning book All Our Trials: Prisons, Policing, and the Feminist Fight to End Violence. 

Presented by Town Hall Seattle.

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