August 17, 2017 James Forman, Jr., Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

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Marion Barry, Maxine Waters, Eric Holder, and Johnnie Cochran are not names you would associate with the staggering incarceration rates plaguing black and minority communities across the country.

Yet, as James Forman, Jr. writes in his new book, Locking Up Our Own, it’s undeniable that the urgency and good-intentioned politics of black leaders in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, as they sought to reduce crime and curb out-of-control drug addiction, has unspooled now, decades later, into a devastating tally of young men whose lives have been lost to the penal system.

Squarely in-line with the work of leading voices like Ta-Nehisi Coates, Michelle Alexander, and Bryan Stevenson, Forman, Jr. looks beyond basic injustices and the racism latent in the American judicial system and shows the unfortunate history of how good ideas and urgent cries for help were unfairly resolved and have since deformed the reality of the American dream for multiple generations of black men.

Award-winning journalist Angie Coiro sits down with Forman, a professor at Yale Law School, to discuss the impact black leaders have had on mass incarceration rates and the deleterious effects of punitive justice and the American reform system.