James Forman Jr. to discuss incarceration and black leaders


James Forman Jr., a Yale Law School professor and former public defender, will argue how the decisions of black leaders played a role in the mass incarceration of people of color as part of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium.

James Forman

Forman will base his discussion on his 2017 book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.”

The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 4 p.m. Jan. 15 in South Hall.

Forman received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University and his law degree from Yale Law School. He clerked for Judge William Norris of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court.

For six years, he worked as a Washington, D.C., public defender, representing juveniles and adults. In 1997, he helped start the Maya Angelou Public Charter School for those who had dropped out of traditional schools or who had been previously arrested.

At Yale, he teaches courses like constitutional law and “Race, Class and Punishment.” He has also offered a seminar inside Manson Youth Institution — a Connecticut prison — during which he teaches both Yale Law students and those who are incarcerated.


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