James Forman, Jr. is a Professor of Law at Yale University and the author of the Pulitzer Prize winning book, “Locking Up Our Own.” James was the keynote speaker at The Minneapolis Foundation’s Bail Reform Summit on October 18, 2019. On that day, he sat down with Chanda to talk about how his parents influenced his life, how intentions don’t always match impact, and the lessons to keep in mind when reforming the criminal legal system.
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, 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.