The United States needs someone who represents the poor and disenfranchised. Someone who has a seat at the table for any discussions of policy, funding, or priorities in the administration of justice. The United States needs a Defender General.
In these times of reckoning—at last—with America’s original sin of slavery and racist policies, with police misconduct, and with mass-incarceration, many in our country ask, “What can we do?”
In this powerful and insightful book, Andrea D. Lyon explicates what is wrong with the criminal justice system through clients’ stories and historical perspective, and makes the compelling case for the need for reform at the center of the system; not just its edges. Lyon, suggests that we should create an office of the Defender General of the United States and give it the same level of importance as the Attorney General and the Solicitor General. Such an office would not be held by someone who represents law enforcement, or corporate America, but rather by someone who represents and advocates for accused individuals, collectively before the powers that be. A Defender General would raise his or her voice against injustices like those involving the unnecessary killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, or the Texas Supreme Court’s refusal to let an innocent man, cleared by DNA, out of prison. The United States needs a Defender General.
Andrea D. Lyon is a criminal defense attorney, (the principal in the criminal defense firm Lyon Law), a death penalty expert, an author, a former professor and law school dean. Over her 40 years of lawyering, Andrea has been involved in several high-profile cases, including former Illinois Governor George Ryan.
Andrea’s legal memoir, Angel of Death Row: My Life as a Death Penalty Defense Lawyer, 2010, received a starred review from Kirkus and was voted “Next Great Read” by the American Booksellers Association. her other published books include: The Feminine Sixth: Women in Criminal Defense. 2018, andThe Death Penalty: What’s Keeping it Alive, 2015.
To find out more, visit her website at https://www.andrealyon.com/
Chapter 1: You Have a Right to An Attorney—Kind of
Chapter 2: The System Isn’t Broken; It Was Built This Way
Chapter 3: [Un]equal Justice: Racism’s Thumb on the Scales
Chapter 4: The Inequality Tax: The Economic Case for Criminal Justice Reform
Chapter 5: The War on Us: Laws that Caused Mass Incarceration
Chapter 6: What a Defender General’s Office Can Mean
One of our country’s most skilled public defenders, Andrea D. Lyon, brings us heartbreaking insights from the trenches to make a passionate case for the creation of a national Defender General—someone endowed with a powerful voice to protect the rights of the accused, correct wrongful convictions, and fight racism and other entrenched systemic problems. This is an engaging, thought-provoking, and persuasive book that will speak to everyone interested in fixing our broken criminal legal system.