About Our Speakers
James Forman, Jr.
After graduating from Yale Law School, James Forman, Jr. 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.
Now at Yale Law School, where he has taught since 2011, James teaches Constitutional Law and a course called Race, Class, and Punishment. He has written many law review articles, in addition to op-eds and essays for the New York Times, the Atlantic, the New Republic, the Nation, and the Washington Post. His first book is the critically acclaimed “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America”, which explores how decisions made by black leaders, often with the best of intentions, contributed to disproportionately incarcerating black and brown people. A Washington Post bestseller, “Locking Up Our Own” was longlisted for the National Book Award and has been named a Best Book of the Year by numerous publications.
Raj Jayadev is a community organizer creating a model of grassroots collective action that gives individuals facing incarceration, their families, and their communities an active role in their defense. His work in criminal justice reform has grown out of his social activism work with Silicon Valley De-Bug, an organization he co-founded in 2001. De-Bug began as a magazine about issues affecting low-wage manufacturing, temporary workers, and it has since evolved into a multidimensional platform for community organizing, social justice advocacy, and multimedia storytelling by low-income, minority, incarcerated, and other disenfranchised communities.
Through De-Bug, Raj and his colleagues also started a family organizing model called the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project – a methodology for families and communities to impact the outcome of cases of their loved ones and change the landscape of power in the courts. Raj is currently an Ashoka Fellow and a Rosenberg Foundation Leading Edge Fellow. His writing and work has appeared and been profiled in media outlets such as the New York Times, Time.com, and National Public Radio.