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  June 23, 2017

James Forman, Jr.: Locking up Our Own

Professor and former public defender James Forman, Jr. discusses his new book about the mass incarceration of black men.


Robert Scheer is the editor-in-chief of Truthdig. He's also a professor at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, and host of the KCRW podcast Scheer Intelligence. For decades, Bob was the national correspondent, and then columnist, for the Los Angeles Times. He's the author of many books, including The Great American Stickup, The Pornography of Power, and most recently They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.

James Forman, Jr. is a law professor at Yale Law School and previously clerked for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. His father was an important figure in the civil rights movement. In his new book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, Forman addresses the problem that many in government and law enforcement see drug addiction as a criminal justice problem and not a mental health issue. So they lock up addicts when they should be providing treatment. Forman says that the early drug decriminalization movement in the 1970s was opposed, in part, by members of the black clergy who thought marijuana use would lead to harder drugs. And Forman tells Robert Scheer that a deeper discussion of slavery by all races is a necessary step toward improving the incarceration crisis.

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