In Danielle Allen’s elegiac family memoir, Cuz: On the Life and Times of Michael A., she tries to make sense of a young African American man’s tragic coming-of-age in Los Angeles. Allen, a Harvard professor and author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality, became the “cousin-on-duty” when her younger cousin Michael was released from prison. Arrested at fifteen, tried as an adult—three years after his release, Michael was shot and killed. Why? Allen’s deeply personal and poignant story is an unwavering look at a world transformed by the sudden availability of narcotics and the rise of street gangs, drugs, and the failures of mass incarceration. Rallying an urgent call for system-wide reform, Allen discusses her new work with Franklin Leonard, a film executive who founded The Black List, a yearly publication featuring Hollywood’s most popular unproduced screenplays.