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Home > Events > Sawyer Seminar Series: James Forman - "Can the Criminal Justice System Ever Be Just?"

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Sawyer Seminar Series: James Forman - "Can the Criminal Justice System Ever Be Just?"

In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on people of color. James Forman, Jr. points out, however, that the war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. His book and talk seek to understand why.
by Rebecca Bennitt Jan 29, 2018
When Jan 31, 2018
from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM
Where 112 Kern Building
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James Forman’s presentation, “Can the Criminal Justice System Ever Be Just?” will take place in 112 Kern Building, on Wednesday, January 31, at 6:00 p.m.

Click HERE to livestream Forman’s talk!

Description: In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on people of color. James Forman, Jr. points out, however, that the war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. His book and talk seek to understand why.


James Forman, Jr. graduated from Roosevelt High School in Atlanta, Brown University, and Yale Law School. He worked as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented juveniles and adults in felony and misdemeanor cases.

Professor Forman loved being a public defender, but he quickly became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. So in 1997, along with David Domenici, he started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested.

At Yale Law School, where has taught since 2011, Professor Forman teaches Constitutional Law and a course called Race, Class, and Punishment. Last year he took his teaching behind prison walls, offering a seminar called Inside-Out Prison Exchange: Issues in Criminal Justice, which brought together, in the same classroom, 10 Yale Law students and 10 men incarcerated in a CT prison.

Professor Forman’s first book is the critically-acclaimed Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, which has been named one of the “best books of the year” by Publisher’s Weekly, longlisted for the National Book Award and the American Librarian Association’s Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence, and shortlisted for the Stephen Russo Book Prize for Social Justice. A Washington Post bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Choice, Locking Up Our Own has been called “superb and shattering” in the New York Times, “eloquent” and “sobering” in the London Review of Books, and “moving, nuanced, and candid” in the New York Review of BooksThe New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior said Locking Up Our Own was “the best book I’ve read this year.”

You can connect with Professor Forman via Twitter (@JFormanJr) and his website www.jamesformanjr.com, which includes a list of upcoming speaking events.

By James Forman, Jr.:

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