With so much attention drawn to the U.S. president’s daily outrageous tweets, it is easy to forget that America's criminal justice crisis continues unabated. In a new book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, James Forman Jr. offers a fresh perspective on mass incarceration’s origins, and how to dismantle it. Focusing on African-American elected officials and policy makers, Forman explores the complicated and often conflicting impulses that led some of them to support punitive crime policies. He also celebrates the more recent shift against the war on crime, but argues that we haven’t gone nearly far enough. While most advocacy against mass incarceration has focused on non-violent drug offenders, Forman’s book illustrates why we must also change how we talk about and treat people convicted of violent offenses.
Forman will discuss the shifting landscape of race and criminal justice with Khalil Gibran Muhammad, author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America, which won the 2011 John Hope Franklin Best Book award in American Studies.
- James Forman Jr. is professor of law at Yale University and a former Open Society Fellow (2013–2014).
- Khalil Gibran Muhammad is professor of history, race, and public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.