George Critchlow, author of Travels with Vamper: A Graybeard’s Journey, has a new book available for purchase. The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege is about Michael Anderson, an aging African American man who grew up poor and abused on Chicago’s south side, then came to Eastern Washington, and has now spent the last forty-three years in Washington prisons. The book describes Michael’s early life of trauma and crime, his trial in a conservative white community before a bigoted judge, his moral and spiritual transformation in prison, and a curious friendship that started in 1979 when the author was a young lawyer appointed to represent Anderson on twenty-two violent felony charges. Partly about race and white privilege and partly about a criminal justice system that keeps harmless old men in prison until they die, the book also raises larger questions about faith and what it is that determines our individual destinies.
The Lifer and the Lawyer: A Story of Punishment, Penitence, and Privilege contributes to the ongoing national discussion about sentencing, rehabilitation, and racially disparate treatment. Unlike other books, it is not about an innocent man suffering an unjust prison sentence; rather, it is about a guilty man who was truly dangerous in his youth, who has not been dangerous for decades, and who has mostly been forgotten, separated from his family, and left to languish in a prison cell in the middle of the Eastern Washington desert.