Briefing Room
James Forman Jr.

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2018 David H. Bodiker Lecture on Criminal Justice

February 22, 2018 | Events

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About the speaker

The 2018 David H. Bodiker Lecture on Criminal Justice will feature James Forman Jr., professor of law at Yale Law School and best-selling author of the critically acclaimed book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America (2017), which explores how decisions made by black leaders, often with the best of intentions, contributed to disproportionately incarcerating black and brown people. A Washington Postbest-seller, Locking Up Our Own was longlisted for the National Book Award and has been named Best Book of the Year by numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Marshall Project, Publisher’s Weekly, and GQ magazine.

Forman teaches Constitutional Law at Yale and a course called Race, Class, and Punishment. He also takes his teaching behind prison walls, offering a seminar called Inside-Out Prison Exchange: Issues in Criminal Justice, which brings 10 Yale Law students and 10 men incarcerated in a Connecticut prison together, in the same classroom.

Prior to joining Yale’s faculty in 2011, Forman 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 he spent six years representing juveniles and adults in felony and misdemeanor cases.

While Forman loved being a public defender, he became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. In 1997, Forman co-founded the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. In 2007, the Maya Angelou School expanded and agreed to run the school located inside D.C.’s juvenile prison. That school, which had long been criticized for being a failure, has been transformed under the leadership of the Maya Angelou staff, so much so that the court monitor overseeing D.C.’s juvenile system described the turnaround as “extraordinary.”

Forman is a graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut, with his wife Ify Nwokoye, a nurse practitioner and yoga instructor, and their 8-year old son Emeka, who loves sports, travel, and defying his parents.

If you would like to stay in touch with Forman after the lecture, visit his website—jamesformanjr.com—and follow him on Twitter @JFormanJr.

This lecture is scheduled for noon on March 19 in Saxbe Auditorium, located inside Drinko Hall, 55 W. 12th Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43210.