The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege

Finally, the book is a revealing commentary on our criminal justice system's obsession with life sentences.
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This is a compelling story about a man who had 3 strikes against him from the time he was born. What I love is how he used his incarceration to become aware of the damage he did to others from his crimes, seek forgiveness, and become his best possible self. George Critchlow did an amazing job of building compassion for Michael before getting to the awful crimes he committed in his youth. It's hard to hate him when you understand what his childhood was like. I really appreciate how a light was shined on our court system. Maybe with awareness we can institute real change and incorporate rewards for personal growth and redemption. Highly recommend this book.

-- Becky M.
Book Description:
***The  Lifer and the Lawyer was a finalist and ultimate Non-Fiction Runner-Up in the 2021 Maxy Awards book competition.
It is true that some people are very damaged. It is not true that they are all unsalvageable. The Lifer and the Lawyer raises questions about childhood trauma, religion, race, the purpose of punishment, and a criminal justice system that requires harmless old men to die in prison. It is a true story about Michael Anderson, an aging African American man who grew up poor and neglected on Chicago’s south side and became a violent and predatory criminal. Anderson has now spent the last forty-three years in prison as a result of a 1978 crime spree that took place in southeastern Washington. The book describes his spiritual and moral transformation in prison and challenges society’s assumption that he was an irredeemable monster. It also tells the story of the author’s evolving relationship with Anderson that began in 1979 when Critchlow, a young white lawyer from a privileged background, was appointed to defend Anderson on multiple violent felony charges. For Anderson, this is a story about overcoming childhood trauma and learning how to empathize and love through faith and self-knowledge. For Critchlow, the story also raises questions about how we become who we are–about race, culture, and opportunity. Finally, the book is a revealing commentary on our criminal justice system’s obsession with life sentences.
George Critchlow (Author)
George Critchlow is an emeritus professor at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington where he taught both clinical and traditional courses for many years. He is also an experienced trial lawyer with civil and criminal experience in state courts, federal courts, and the Supreme Court of the United States. He has taught international human rights law and consulted on legal education curricula in Europe, South America, and the Middle East. Professor Critchlow’s interest in fairness, equal opportunity, and civil liberties has been a central part of his professional life. Critchlow was an original founder and a Director of the Gonzaga Institute for Action Against Hate (now known as the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies), which focuses on the interdisciplinary study of why people hate and strategies for combating hate. He founded and edited the Institute’s Journal of Hate Studies, which is published annually in print and online.
Dear Reader, author’s recently published book “The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege” is now available on leading bookstores, get your copy now and help the author by writing a review of the book.
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