Practicing attorney Shanti Brien addresses criminal justice reform in her debut memoir Almost Innocent: From Searching to Saved in America’s Criminal Justice System (Amplify Publishing; March 2, 2021). A groundbreaking insider’s account of the messy, tragic, and often unjust legal system in America, Almost Innocent outlines the human impact of the criminal justice system and illuminates one of the most urgent issues of our time.
Shanti Brien has spent her professional career in criminal defense, specializing in appeals and post-conviction proceedings. In Almost Innocent, she details the stories of nine of her clients and goes behind the headlines to break down the dichotomies our country grapples with—us versus them, good versus bad, guilt versus innocence, Black versus White—and challenges us to explore the humanity in between.
Though her clients’ profiles are as individual as their sentences—the teenage gang member whose gun never fired, the victim of the world’s most vindictive homeowners’ association, the soft-spoken three-strikes rapist, and the single mother turned get-away driver—they all touched her life in surprising ways. They saved her from stupid mistakes; strengthened her NFL-ravaged marriage; and taught her about humility, redemption, and humanity. Shanti Brien’s story is a “deft but humble investigation into who is worthy of compassion and where justice may have lost its way” (Kelly Corrigan).
Part memoir, part political commentary, Almost Innocent is a “compelling, thought-provoking work that shies away from easy answers to questions of right or wrong” (Kirkus Reviews) and is “sure to capture the attention of anyone vested in living in a country of truly equal and just laws” (BlueInk Review). This book is an intimate portrait of the criminal justice system that offers suggestions for what it could be: more fair, more humane, and more just.
Almost Innocent is available everywhere books are sold, and Shanti Brien is available for interviews, features, and virtual events. She is also the co-founder of Fogbreak Justice, an education and consulting company with the mission to transform the criminal justice system through experiences that reduce bias, promote fairness, build community trust, and create equity.