African American Lawmakers and the History of Mass Incarceration
In his new book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, James Forman Jr. offers a fresh perspective on the origins of mass incarceration and how to dismantle it. Focusing on African American elected officials and policymakers, 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 nonviolent drug offenders, Forman’s book illustrates why we must also change how we talk about and treat people convicted of violent offenses.
In a recent conversation, Forman discussed 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.