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Alec Karakatsanis

Lawyer, Public Defender & Founder of the Civil Rights Corps

Lawyer, Public Defender & Founder of the Civil Rights Corps

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Washington, DC, USA
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Alec Karakatsanis Biography

Alec Karakatsanis is the Founder of Civil Rights Corps. Before founding Civil Rights Corps, Karakatsanis was a civil rights lawyer and public defender with the Special Litigation Division of the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia; a federal public defender in Alabama, representing impoverished people accused of federal crimes; and co-founder of the non-profit organization Equal Justice Under Law.

Karakatsanis has pioneered constitutional civil rights cases to challenge the size, power, profit, and everyday brutality of the punishment bureaucracy across the United States. These legal challenges have helped to free hundreds of thousands of people from jail, returned tens of millions of dollars to indigent people and families, prevented hundreds of thousands of illegal convictions, prevented the separation of thousands of families, and transformed the way the U.S. criminal punishment bureaucracy handles fines, fees, and bail. Karakatsanis has also worked with directly impacted communities across the U.S. to design innovative new legal, advocacy, and narrative strategies for challenging widespread illegal and harmful practices of prosecutors, police, probation officers, judges, and private companies who work with them to profit from the punishment bureaucracy.

Karakatsanis has recently been awarded the 2023 John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award. Other honors include the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award by Public Justice and the Stephen B. Bright Award for contributions to indigent defense in the South by Gideon’s Promise. His work at Civil Rights Corps challenging the money bail system in California was honored with the Champion of Public Defense Award by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. You can read a profile about Karakatsanis’s work starting Civil Rights Corps challenging modern debtors’ prisons in Harvard Magazine here.

Karakatsanis graduated from Yale College in 2005 with a degree in Ethics, Politics, & Economics and Harvard Law School in 2008, where he was a Supreme Court Chair of the Harvard Law Review. Karakatsanis lectures widely about the failures of the criminal punishment bureaucracy, typically gives more than 100 lectures, speeches, trainings, interviews, and workshops per year.

Karakatsanis is interested in genuine holistic safety for everyone and ending human caging, surveillance, police, the death penalty, immigration laws, war, and inequality. He also likes playing the piano and soccer, collecting rocks, singing, growing flowers, creating mosaics from dried flowers, repeating the same jokes until they become funny, writing poetry, and making weird paintings on large pieces of wood and metal.

You can watch Karakatsanis talk about Copaganda in the media on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah and The Breakfast Club. He also writes a regular newsletter on Copaganda in the media called Alec’s Copaganda Newsletter. Karakatsanis’s first book is "Usual Cruelty."

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Speaker profile last updated by AAE Talent Team on 01/15/2024.

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  • What topics does Alec Karakatsanis speak about?

    Alec Karakatsanis is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Activism, Business, Civil Rights, Law, Non Profit, Political, Social Justice, Speakers by Industry.
  • Where does Alec Karakatsanis travel from?

    Alec Karakatsanis generally travels from Washington, DC, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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Alec Karakatsanis is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Alec Karakatsanis for your event is $5,000 - $10,000. Alec Karakatsanis generally travels from Washington, DC, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Kylar Broadus, Clayborne Carson, Andrew Leon Hanna, Benjamin Crump and Nadine Strossen. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Alec Karakatsanis for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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