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A Newsletter about the Criminal Legal System, the Law and All Their Intersections Amy Greer May 5

Greetings,

I am a lawyer, librarian and qualitative researcher by training, and a storyteller and advocate by nature. I invite you to subscribe to my bi-weekly newsletter, Is That Legal?, which seeks to demystify, raise awareness and shed light on the criminal legal system and the law. Additionally, I will curate some of the highest quality resources, writing and talks, saving you time and energy in keeping yourself informed.

Why write this newsletter? Because the criminal legal system in all its forms, such as law enforcement, departments of corrections, probation and parole, etc., impacts every facet of our community. Yet, as pervasive as it is, many of you have told me you do not feel like you can fully engage with this topic because you are not sure how the system actually functions, why it functions this way and how we got here. Through explanations, context, commentary and a curated list of some of the most reliable, accurate resources, this newsletter aims to help you become more/better informed.

Why this topic? For so many reasons, but here are three big ones:

  • Because the criminal legal system is used to perpetrate an immense amount of violence and harm in our names and with our tax dollars, and it does not make us safer. (See Center for Court Innovation, “Does the Criminal Justice System Cause Crime?”).

  • Because in 2020, 2.3 million people were incarcerated in jails and prisons around the U.S. (Prison Policy Initiative’s Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2020). 

  • Because the police have shot and killed more than 5,000 people since 2015, and the rate at which Black Americans are killed by police is more than twice as high as the rate for white Americans. (Washington Post, “Fatal Force”).

How does it work? First, you subscribe. Then, on the first and third Tuesday of the month, I will send you a newsletter breaking down an area of the criminal legal system and the law, providing explanations, context, commentary, and a list of resources related to the topic. The cost to you is the equivalent of a yummy pint (ice cream or beer!) or a large latte, or less than a good glass of wine: $7/month. 

Why me? I have been digging deep into issues of race, policy and the law for many years, both in formal education settings and as someone involved in my community as a public librarian, educator and public defender. I have a PhD from Simmons University, where I studied white racial identity development, racism and policy in the U.S. After working as a data nerd and grantmaker for a few years, I went on to law school, where I wrote about and explored the ways in which the Constitution protects some but not all of us. Most recently, I served as a public defender in a small, rural community in southeast Alaska. All of my experiences, and all of the questions I have received over the years, compel me to put to good use my explorations, education and writing skills in the hopes of being part of the push toward transformative justice, which is urgently needed. 

Why pay? There is a lot of great journalism and scholarship on the criminal legal system and the law out there alongside a powerful push in our communities toward transformative justice. This bi-weekly newsletter will help you become better/more informed about what the system does on our behalf; more confident to engage in conversations about the criminal legal system; and, build a bridge so you can be more informed when engaging with the writing and activism already out there. Then, perhaps, you will feel empowered to get involved in social change and activism in your community. 

Invest in your own learning. Join me and a community of inquiring minds in an on-going conversation about the criminal legal system: where we’ve been, where we are and where we might go from here. Challenge your thinking and your viewpoints. Get involved. Subscribe today, and spread the word to your family, social networks, and colleagues.

If you feel you already know a lot about this stuff, please spread the word. You can also support my work here. 

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With gratitude,

Amy (or, Dr. G.)

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