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The Lifer and the Lawyer

The Lifer and the Lawyer

by George Critchlow, Michael Anderson


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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 abused 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 twenty-two 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781725278370
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 12/09/2020
Pages: 210
Sales rank: 517,415
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.48(d)

About the Author

George Critchlow is a lawyer and an emeritus professor at Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington. He has authored several law journal articles and a travel memoir, Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard’s Journey (2017).

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“All too often, our culture seems determined to place people—particularly people of color—into tiny boxes labeled ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ with little consideration given to either the causes and conditions that lead people to engage in criminal behavior or the possibility of rehabilitation. Michael Anderson’s story, elegantly told by George Critchlow, reveals these notions for exactly what they are: callous, simplistic, and implicitly racist. This timely and engaging book is a moving testament to the power of faith, transformation, and the idea that any system that aspires to justice must account for the possibility of redemption.”

—Russell Kolts, Professor of Psychology, Eastern Washington University, and author of An Open-Hearted Life

“A collaborative effort between a white criminal defense lawyer and his incarcerated African American client, The Lifer and the Lawyer is a true story of crime, punishment, and redemption. The narrative adeptly and unflinchingly raises questions about childhood neglect, unequal opportunities, excessive sentencing, racial bigotry, and the importance of religious faith. The Lifer and the Lawyer is a compelling and uplifting read that makes a meaningful contribution to the national dialogue on criminal justice reform.”

—Mary Pat Treuthart, Professor of Law, Gonzaga University School of Law

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