Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (Paperback)

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Winner of this year’s Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, Locking Up Our Own is an honest and balanced look at our criminal justice system. Forman, a Yale University Law Professor and former DC prosecutor, investigates the issue of mass incarceration in American and the part played by African Americans in shaping this criminal justice policy.  Forman brings his sense of humanity and clear eyed research to skillfully address a tangled, complex, and tragic issue. No one gets off the hook here. This is an important book that I urge you to read. He was one of my favorite interviewees on the Just The Right Book podcast, bringing his graciousness and intelligence to the wide ranging discussion.  -Roxanne

James Forman, Jr. On Political Activism

James Forman, Jr. Talks Slavery and His Own Surprising Prejudices

— From Roxanne's 2018 Summer Reads


Winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction
Long-listed for the National Book Award
Finalist, Current Interest Category, Los Angeles Times Book Prizes
One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2017
Short-listed for the Inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in the nation's urban centers.

Forman shows us that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including Washington, D.C. mayor Marion Barry and federal prosecutor Eric Holder, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness--and thus embraced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates and the proliferation of open-air drug markets, they believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods.

A former D.C. public defender, Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He writes with compassion about individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas--from the men and women he represented in court to officials struggling to respond to a public safety emergency. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.

About the Author

James Forman Jr. is a professor of law at Yale Law School. He has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, numerous law reviews, and other publications. A former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, he spent six years as a public defender in Washington, D.C., where he cofounded the Maya Angelou Public Charter School.
Product Details
ISBN: 9780374537449
ISBN-10: 0374537445
Publisher: Farrar Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 320
Language: English