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Date: 11/12/2020
Time: 6pm - 7:30pm PST
Presented By: Public History Institute

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Talk Description:

Between them, Pat and Jerry Brown governed California for nearly a quarter of a century, shaping the modern state in myriad ways. Among the realms in which they both had lasting impact, the state's criminal justice system stands out. They selected more than a thousand judges, remade California's highest court (three times), shaped the sentencing structure and its prisons, issued pardons and commutations. In this talk, Miriam Pawel will trace the evolution of each man's thinking and practice, explore the consequences, and place their actions in the context of their guiding beliefs and principles.




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Miriam Pawel bio (from

I write, mostly books these days, but also some opinion pieces, essays, and book reviews. Before I became an author, I spent 25 years reporting and editing for Newsday and the Los Angeles Times. I consider myself lucky to have lived in two great and fascinating places, New York and LA.

I like to figure out how things work, and when they don’t work, why, and who should be held accountable. Journalism and history have a lot in common; first-rate work stems from in-depth research. I spend more time now reading documents than interviewing people, and unlocking buried secrets in archives has been a great pleasure. I believe that in addition to research techniques, the disciplines of journalism and history share certain responsibilities and goals. There’s a Chinese proverb that says the historian is the hand that rectifies.

As an author, I try to apply narrative writing skills to tell compelling stories based on rigorous academic research, so that stories that matter can reach the widest possible audience.

Please email me with comments, questions, or thoughts at