For two and a half years, Emily Bazelon has been following people through a special court in New York designed to be a speedy machine for the harsh punishment of illegal gun possession. Along the way, a strange thing happened—the politics outside the courtroom started to change when a new generation of activists and insiders began challenging the old system the gun court was part of. Read Bazelon’s cover story.
Season 1 of Slate Presents brought you the story of Ruby Ridge, and Season 2 brings you a fight to transform one big-city justice system.
New episodes of Charged will be released every Wednesday beginning Apr. 17. Slate Plus members will receive a full bonus episode each week.
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EPISODE 1: BORN IN BROOKLYN
The mayor of New York deals with a big political problem by creating a new court in Brooklyn. Two men, Eric and Tarari, born 25 years and a few blocks apart in Brooklyn take entirely different paths to meet at that court—one as a defendant and the other as the district attorney.
PLUS: THE MAKING OF CHARGED
Host Emily Bazelon talks to producers Veralyn Williams and Alvin Melathe. They discuss what it’s like being producers of color and the racial nuances of making a podcast about crime and punishment in New York. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 2: CRIMINOGENIC
As his family and friends hustle to come up with his bail money, Tarari’s journey into the criminal justice system takes him to one of the most infamous jails in the country: Rikers Island. Eric runs for his own term as district attorney just as the demands to close Rikers heat up.
Bazelon goes deeper into the issues of bail with Insha Rahman of the Vera Institute. They discuss the history of bail in the United States, how bail bond companies work, and the current movements to end cash bail in several states. For Slate Plus members only.
EPISODE 3: THE GHOST OF TYRONE HOWARD
Tarari faces a very long prison sentence before he’s offered the chance at mercy—with many strings attached. An episode from Eric Gonzalez’s past comes back to haunt him as he campaigns for district attorney and thinks through the consequences of extending mercy to people like Tarari.
PLUS: PLEA BARGAINING
Bazelon talks plea bargaining with Adam Foss, founder and president of Prosecutor Impact. They discuss how plea bargaining works, the culture of prosecutors versus public defenders, and what he’s trying to teach young prosecutors now.
EPISODE 4: THE ESCAPE HATCH
Tarari enters a diversion program, which saves him from jail but puts his life—and the lives of other defendants like him—on a knife’s edge. We hear from social workers who run the program about the many ethical quandaries of trying to help their clients inside of a system built to punish them.
Bazelon talks about diversion and alternatives to incarceration with Adam Mansky from the Center for Court Innovation. They discuss the possible alternatives to incarceration or conviction, like the CCI’s pioneering program at the Red Hook Community Justice Center in New York, and how they work.
EPISODE 5: THE LONG TAIL
A stand-alone episode about Cadeem Gibbs, one of the voices featured in our series. Gibbs is introduced to listeners as an expert but goes through his own harrowing experience with the system—when he’s sent to Rikers a few days shy of completing his parole. We document his ordeal and its surprising aftermath.
Bazelon goes deeper into the issues of parole and supervised release with Scott Hechinger of Brooklyn Defender Services. They discuss Cadeem’s case, New York’s Less is More act, supervision and reincarceration, and how more attention is starting to shine on what happens in gun court and once people are released from jail.
EPISODE 6: THE OTHER SIDE
We check in with Tarari and others as they complete their time in the diversion program and look toward their futures, and we hear from the people inside the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office about their plans to reshape their slice of the criminal justice system.
PLUS: A CONVERSATION WITH STACEY ABRAMS
Listen to a conversation between Bazelon and former Georgia House Democratic Leader Stacey Abrams, recorded at an event at the New York Public Library in April.
Buy Bazelon’s new book Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and End Mass Incarceration.