112th: Excessive Punishment with Lauren-Brooke Eisen

Event date: 
05/23/2024 - 7:00pm

Join us Thursday, May 23rd at 7pm for a panel conversation in celebration of the recent release of Excessive Punishment: How the Justice System Creates Mass IncarcerationThe editor, Lauren-Brooke Eisen, will be joined by Ames Grawert and Hernandez D. Stroud

In order to facilitate this in-person author event, we will be partially closing the second floor starting at 6:45pm. Please review our Safety guidelines and register for the event using the link below. 


or register using the following link: https://forms.gle/d4RisCHSqbrLYHpn6

The United States has by far the world’s largest population of incarcerated people. More than a million Americans are imprisoned; hundreds of thousands more are held in jails. This vast system has doled out punishment—particularly to people from marginalized groups—on an unfathomable scale. At the same time, it has manifestly failed to secure public safety, instead perpetuating inequalities and recidivism. Why does the United States see punishment as the main response to social harm, and what are the alternatives?

This book brings together essays by scholars, practitioners, activists, and writers, including incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, to explore the harms of this punitive approach. The chapters address a range of issues, from policing to prosecution, and from how people are treated in prison to the consequences of a criminal conviction. Together, they consider a common theme: We cannot reduce our dependence on mass incarceration until we confront our impulse to punish in ways that are excessive, often wildly disproportionate to the harm caused. Essays trace how a maze of local, state, and federal agencies have contributed to mass incarceration and deterred attempts at reform. They shed light on how the excesses of America’s criminal legal system are entwined with poverty, racism, and the legacy of slavery. A wide-ranging and powerful look at the failures of the status quo, Excessive Punishment also considers how to reimagine the justice system to support restoration instead of retribution.

Lauren-Brooke Eisen is the senior director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program, where she leads the organization’s work to reduce America’s reliance on incarceration. Her team focuses on exposing the profound social and economic hardships that impact those who encounter the justice system. The team also seeks to create policies that shrink the justice system’s size and scope while improving the humanity and fairness of America’s criminal legal system.

Eisen has authored dozens of nationally recognized reports and articles on how to reduce America’s reliance on incarceration. Her work has been featured in media outlets across the country, including the New York Times, USA Today, Time, U.S. News & World Report, the Daily News, and the Marshall Project, and she has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, CBS News, NBC News, Fox News, National Public Radio, as well as many other television and radio news programs.

Eisen is the editor of Excessive Punishment. She is also author of Inside Private Prisons: An American Dilemma in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Columbia University Press, 2017) and received a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting to conduct international research on public-private partnerships in corrections. Eisen currently serves on the New York City Bar’s Task Force on Mass Incarceration, is a member of the Council on Criminal Justice, and serves on the advisory board for the Alliance for Higher Education in Prison. She co-chaired Manhattan DA-elect Alvin Bragg’s transition team and served on the transition committee for Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez. Eisen taught an undergraduate seminar on mass incarceration at Yale University, served as an adjunct instructor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and currently teaches for the Columbia University Pre-College Program.

Before joining the Brennan Center, Eisen was a senior program associate at the Vera Institute of Justice, where she worked on the sentencing and corrections team to implement policies in multiple states to improve public safety while reducing prison populations. She also previously served as an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she worked in the Appeals Bureau, the Criminal Court Bureau, and the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau. Before entering law school, Eisen worked as a beat reporter for a daily newspaper in Laredo, Texas, covering criminal justice and immigration. Eisen holds an AB from Princeton University and a JD from the Georgetown University Law Center.

Ames Grawert is senior counsel and John L. Neu Justice Counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. He leads quantitative and policy research focused on trends in crime, and the collateral costs of mass incarceration. Additionally, he advocates for criminal justice reform policies at the state and federal level.

Previously, Grawert served as an assistant district attorney in the Appeals Bureau of the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office, where he reviewed and litigated claims of actual innocence in addition to his appellate work. Before entering public service, he was an associate at Mayer Brown LLP, where he represented criminal defendants pro bono in post-conviction litigation.

Hernandez D. Stroud is senior counsel in the Brennan Center’s Justice Program. An authority on prisons and jails, correctional oversight, and constitutional law, he researches the scope of the federal government’s power to fashion structural and systemic reforms that prevent and remedy the failure of state and local criminal justice institutions in observing the rights of the incarcerated under the U.S. Constitution; he also drafts and spearheads federal criminal legal and policy reforms. He currently holds adjunct professorships at both Columbia University and the New York University School of Law, teaching graduate, law, and medical students.  He is also an affiliated fellow at Yale Law School.

Prior to joining the Brennan Center, Stroud was the inaugural recipient of the Robert F. Drinan Visiting Assistant Professorship at Boston College Law School, where he taught and wrote in the areas of constitutional law, civil rights, and statutory interpretation; he has also served as a visiting assistant professor of law at Washington and Lee University School of Law. 

Stroud has been featured in media outlets across the nation, including USA Today, TIME, National Public Radio, and C-SPAN.  He is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in teaching, research, and policy, including selection to Forbes’ “30 Under 30.”

Event address: 
Book Culture
536 W 112th St
New York, NY 10025
Excessive Punishment: How the Justice System Creates Mass Incarceration By Lauren-Brooke Eisen (Editor) Cover Image
By Lauren-Brooke Eisen (Editor)
ISBN: 9780231212175
Availability: On hand at one or more locations, see product page for details
Published: Columbia University Press - April 9th, 2024