James Forman, Jr., of Yale Law School Discusses Race and Criminal Justice

Convening Yale

Race and Criminal Justice in America, Convening Yale with James Forman Jr., Professor of Law

Business and nonprofit organizations have an important role to play in solving America’s incarceration crisis, James Forman, Jr., professor of law, told students at the Yale School of Management on October 4.

“One of the most powerful things you can do to keep someone from becoming incarcerated—or being re-incarcerated—is give them a job, a good job,” Forman said, explaining that the stigma of criminal records too often bars employment to ex-convicts. “We have to go further and signal to people that we will consider you in fullness, as a whole person,” Forman said.

Forman spoke as part of Convening Yale, a lecture series that brings faculty experts from across Yale to share their research with Yale SOM students. Forman’s recent book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, is a Washington Post bestseller and a New York Times Editor’s Choice. James Baron, the William S. Beinecke Professor of Management, moderated the event.

Forman said that he views the criminal justice system as the civil rights issue of his generation. The paradox at the center of his book, he said, is that while the past 50 years have seen a sharp increase in the number of of African Americans serving as elected and appointed officials in major cities, they have also seen the creation of criminal justice policies that harshly punish African Americans.

Before joining Yale Law School, Forman worked as a public defender in Washington, D.C., where he also co-founded a charter school high school for dropouts and youth with arrest records.

Forman said that the country’s criminal justice system can be fixed, and he encouraged students to join the effort on the local and state levels.

“We have to own it collectively and ask ourselves what can we do, individually and collectively, as a response,” he said.

About the Event

Please join members of the Yale SOM Community on Wednesday, October 4 for “Race and Criminal Justice in America,” a Convening Yale event with James Forman Jr. LAW ’92, professor of Law at Yale Law School. Professor Forman has represented juveniles as a public defender in Washington, D.C., co-started a charter school for dropouts and youth who have previously been arrested, and is the author a new book titled Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America.

James N. Baron, William S. Beinecke Professor of  Management, will moderate the event and a significant amount of time will be reserved for audience questions.

This lecture is part of the Convening Yale lecture series. Convening Yale presents talks by faculty and leaders from throughout Yale University, who share their research and expertise and help students broaden their understanding of an increasingly complex world. The Convening Yale series is made possible through the generous support of the Robert J. Silver ’50 Fund for Innovation in Management Education.
 

This event is open to the Yale Community. Registration is required.
 

Speakers

James Forman

Professor of Law, Yale Law School

Professor Forman attended Yale Law School, and after he graduated, worked as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he took a job at the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six...

Professor Forman attended Yale Law School, and after he graduated, worked as a law clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the U.S. Supreme Court. After clerking, he took a job at 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 he 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 Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. 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 Books. The New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior said Locking Up Our Own was “the best book I’ve read this year.” Copies of Professor Forman's book will be available for sale at the event and he will stay after the talk to sign books.