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On Black involvement throughout the mass incarceration machine.


You have a Black working class, and the Black poor, that are trapped, isolated and left behind by the rest of society. And the one institution we now give them is prison and the criminal justice system. When I was a kid growing up in Atlanta in a working class African American community, there were two huge buildings in my neighborhood - one of them was a federal penitentiary, the other was a Ford plant. 30 years later, one of those buildings is closed, and the other is bigger.

Law professor James Forman, Jr discusses the looming presence of policing and mass incarceration in a Black America starved of economic or social services in the decades after the Civil Rights struggle, and explains how Black politicians petitioned for tougher law enforcement alongside a re-investment plan in their communities, only to receive the former, with devastating consequences.

James is author of Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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James Forman Jr.

James Forman, Jr. is a professor of law at Yale Law School.


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