**CANCELED**Jocelyn Simonson at Harvard Book Store


Radical Acts of Justice:
How Ordinary People Are
Dismantling Mass Incarceration

in conversation with SANDRA SUSAN SMITH

Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been canceled.


September 7, 2023
7:00 PM ET


Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138


This event is free; no tickets are required.

Due to unforeseen circumstances this event has been canceled. 

Harvard Book Store welcomes JOCELYN SIMONSON—professor of law at Brooklyn Law School—for a discussion of her new book Radical Acts of Justice: How Ordinary People Are Dismantling Mass Incarceration. She will be joined in conversation by SANDRA SUSAN SMITH—Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management.

About Radical Acts of Justice

From reading books on mass incarceration, one might conclude that the way out of our overly punitive, racially disparate criminal system is to put things in the hands of experts, technocrats able to think their way out of the problem. But, as Jocelyn Simonson points out in her groundbreaking new book, the problems posed by the American carceral state are not just technical puzzles; they present profound moral questions for our time.

Radical Acts of Justice tells the stories of ordinary people joining together in collective acts of resistance: paying bail for a stranger, using social media to let the public know what everyday courtroom proceedings are like, making a video about someone’s life for a criminal court judge, presenting a budget proposal to the city council. When people join together to contest received ideas of justice and safety, they challenge the ideas that prosecutions and prisons make us safer; that public officials charged with maintaining “law and order” are carrying out the will of the people; and that justice requires putting people in cages. Through collective action, these groups live out new and more radical ideas of what justice can look like.

In a book that will be essential reading for those who believe our current systems of policing, criminal law, and prisons are untenable, Jocelyn Simonson shows how to shift power away from the elite actors at the front of the courtroom and toward the swelling collective in the back.

Praise for Radical Acts of Justice

“Jocelyn Simonson is one of the great up-and-coming legal intellectuals. But this book is much more than something very smart and well-written. It is an exploration of an essential new shift in forms of participatory democracy, and everyone should read it and then get involved in their local community with these new forms of community empowerment—the significance of which she so expertly explains to a wider audience.” —Alec Karaktsanis, founder and executive director of Civil Rights Corps and author of Usual Cruelty

“An important, sophisticated, and often inspiring book about how the human beings most affected by our criminal system are challenging and changing it from within. With scholarly rigor, passion, and deep on-the-ground expertise, Simonson reveals a vibrant world of ongoing collective action and offers a rich new understanding of public safety.” —Alexandra Natapoff, professor of law, Harvard Law School, and author of Punishment Without Crime

“A deeply inspiring account of communities coming together to reclaim and reshape fundamental definitions of safety, justice, and the law itself. A lesson and a road map for organizers everywhere.” —Baz Dreisinger, professor of English, John Jay College, founder of Prison-to-College Pipeline, and author of Incarceration Nations

Mask Policy

Masks are encouraged but not required for this event.

Jocelyn Simonson
Jocelyn Simonson

Jocelyn Simonson

A former public defender, Jocelyn Simonson is 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 Times, The Nation, n+1, the Washington Post, and others. Radical Acts of Justice (The New Press) is her first book. She lives in New York City.

Photo credit: Todd France Photography

Sandra Susan Smith
Sandra Susan Smith

Sandra Susan Smith

Sandra Susan Smith is the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Professor of Criminal Justice and Faculty Director of the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management. She is the Director of the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. She is also the Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute. Smith's publications include Lone Pursuit: Distrust and Defensive Individualism among the Black Poor; The Criminal Justice System as a Labor Market Institution, co-edited with Jonathan Simon; and the forthcoming The Cultural Logics of Job-Matching Assistance. Smith, who holds an MA and Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Chicago and a B.A. in history-sociology from Columbia University, has been a visiting scholar at Stanford's Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and at the Russell Sage Foundation.

Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138

Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes

As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.

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