James Forman Jr. to provide a critical look at the criminal justice system
The University of Mississippi will host James Forman Jr., author of the acclaimed new book “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” for a series of lectures and events Tuesday (Nov. 14) on campus.
Forman, a professor at the Yale Law School, will speak at the UM School of Law’s Weems Auditorium at 12:45 p.m., followed by a book signing. He speaks again at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics, with a reception following. All events are free and open to the public.
Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. He is particularly interested in schools, prisons and police.
“I’ve known James for all of my professional career as a lawyer,” said Tucker Carrington, UM assistant professor of law and director of the George C. Cochran Innocence Project. “I was fortunate to be his colleague when we were both public defenders in D.C.
“Professor Forman will downplay his talent, but he was a superb trial lawyer – whip-smart, personable, thoughtful and deeply passionate about his clients and their plight. Juries got it immediately; they loved him. He has brought those same qualities to his teaching and to the subject matter of his new book: the complex reasons behind our national problem with over-incarceration.”
For the Overby Center program, Carrington will conduct a conversation on social issues with Forman.
“We believe it will be a provocative program and a strong way to wind up our fall series,” said Curtis Wilkie, the university’s Overby fellow.
After graduating from Brown University and Yale Law School, Forman clerked for Judge William Norris of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit and then for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor of the United States Supreme Court. He then joined the Public Defender Service in Washington, D.C., where for six years he represented both juveniles and adults charged with crimes.
During his time as a public defender, Forman became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. In 1997, he, along with David Domenici, started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. The school has since expanded and is run inside D.C.’s juvenile prison.
“Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America” (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2017) argues that law enforcement initiatives by black officials have had devastating consequences for black communities. The book has been listed on the National Book Award Longlist, among other critical praise.
Forman’s book will be available for purchase at the Law School Tuesday. For more information, contact Carrington at 662-915-5207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Jordan Thomas