Goldberg Lecture: Professor James L. Forman, Jr. Pulitzer Prize Winner
Irving L. Goldberg Endowed Lecture Series PresentsProfessor James Forman, Jr.
Yale Law School
2018 Pulitzer Prize Winner
"Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America"James Forman, Jr. attended Yale Law School, and after he graduated, 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.
Professor Forman loved being a public defender, but he quickly became frustrated with the lack of education and job training opportunities for his clients. So in 1997, along with David Domenici, he started the Maya Angelou Public Charter School, an alternative school for dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. The school recently celebrated its 20th anniversary.
At Yale Law School, where he has taught since 2011, Professor Forman teaches Criminal Law and a course called Race, Class, and Punishment. He began teaching behind prison walls in 2016, and now regularly offers a seminar called Inside-Out Prison Exchange: Issues in Criminal Justice. The class brings together 10 Yale Law students and 10 incarcerated students, who meet weekly to study side by side in the prison.
Professor Forman’s first book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, was called “superb and shattering” in the New York Times, “eloquent” and “sobering” in the London Review of Books, and “moving, nuanced, and candid” in the New York Review of Books. The book was named one of the 10 best books of the year by the New York Times and multiple other outlets, and was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.