an unflinching look

Defending the Damned by Kevin A. Davis highlights the inner workings of the public defenders of Cook County. When I initially picked it up I thought it was going to focus on the various cases that the public defenders have to deal with, drug dealers, muggers, stuff like that, but Defending the Damned is focused on the public defenders on the Murder Task Force. Oh shit. The book doesn’t pull any punches, there are a lot of gruesome details and a lot of people who committed terrible atrocities, stuff that might be upsetting for people of a more sensitive nature. So how doe does one go about defending people who murder? That’s what this book is about. If I didn’t live in Chicago I wouldn’t believe some of the stuff in this book, from the abhorrent crimes to the colorful characters that populate the pages, but I do and I remember hearing about some of the cases. Defending the Damned uses the trial of a suspected cop killer from beginning to end to show the workings of the PDs, in order to springboard onto other examples of other cases that the department has had to deal with in the past. It’s some crazy shit. I was pleasantly surprised that it was such a good read, I was expecting a lot of descriptions of bureaucracy and dreary law; however, the book is well written and it grabs on to you and will linger with you, but like I said it is an unflinching look into a world most people are (hopefully) unaware of.   One would think that the PDs would hate their jobs, but it’s quite the opposite, for many it is a driving force in their lives, and they put in a lot of effort to do the job to the best of their capacity despite the colossal pressures of the job. But these people aren’t having to put up with purse snatchers, at the time public defenders had to deal with the death penalty, which was abolished in 2011, so there was that to deal with. Defending the Damned is a fascinating book, good for anyone who has an interest in law, true crime, and of course, Chicago.

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