Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Why the criminal system is this way (audio)

Yale Prof. James Forman, Jr. and Host Adam Conover, Factually!; Eds., Wisdom Quarterly
Factually! w/ Adam Conover (Ep. #54.5, 6/3/20) Mass Incarceration, Accountability, and The Wire

Yale Prof. of Law James Forman, Jr., author of the book Locking Up Our Own, joins Host Adam Conover to discuss the history of how mass incarceration became distorted, juvenile court, confronting problems in the criminal justice system, and more.

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
Winner of a Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction, this is one of the NY Times Book Reviews' ten best books.

"This superb, shattering book probably made a deeper impression on me than any other this year." ―Jennifer Senior, NY Times

"A beautiful [Pulitzer Prize-winning] book... gives us the origins and consequences of where we are..." ―Trevor Noah, The Daily Show

Former public defender James Forman, Jr. is a leading critic of mass incarceration and its disproportionate impact on people of color.

Here he seeks to understand the war on crime that began in the 1970s and why it was supported by many African American leaders in our nation’s urban centers.

Prof. Forman shows that the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office amid a surge in crime and drug addiction. Many prominent black officials, including Washington, D.C. Mayor Marion Barry and federal prosecutor Eric Holder (who later became attorney general in the Obama administration), feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness ― so they embraced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics.

In the face of skyrocketing murder rates and the proliferation of open-air drug markets, they believed they had no choice. But the policies they adopted would have devastating consequences for residents of poor black neighborhoods.

Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He explains why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons about the future of race and the U.S. criminal justice system.

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