Smarty Pants Podcast

Justice, Arrested

Joanna Schwartz on the difficulty of holding the police accountable

By Stephanie Bastek | February 17, 2023
Thomas Hawk/Flickr
Thomas Hawk/Flickr

The drumbeat of people being unlawfully killed by police officers continues. Not even the mass protests of 2020 could push Congress to enact federal legislation banning chokeholds or no-knock warrants. Why does reform remain so difficult? Joanna Schwartz, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has devoted more than two decades to analyzing how our legal system protects the police at every level, from the Supreme Court to municipal governments. Her new book, Shielded: How the Police Became Untouchable, details the dozens of ways in which civil rights plaintiffs, no matter their tax bracket, race, or zip code, can be thwarted: from the difficulties of acquiring a lawyer to the controversial doctrine of qualified immunity, designed to protect police officers from personal liability.

Go beyond the episode:

Tune in every week to catch interviews with the liveliest voices from literature, the arts, sciences, history, and public affairs; reports on cutting-edge works in progress; long-form narratives; and compelling excerpts from new books. Hosted by Stephanie Bastek. Follow us on Twitter @TheAmScho or on Facebook.

SubscribeiTunes • Stitcher • Spotify  • Google Play • Acast

Download the audio here (right click to “save link as …”)

Have suggestions for projects you’d like us to catch up on, or writers you want to hear from? Send us a note: podcast [at] theamericanscholar [dot] org. And rate us on iTunes! Our theme music was composed by Nathan Prillaman.

Permission required for reprinting, reproducing, or other uses.

Comments powered by Disqus