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Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
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Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America


In recent years, America’s criminal justice system has become the subject of an increasingly urgent debate. Critics have assailed the rise of mass incarceration, emphasizing its disproportionate impact on people of color. As James Forman, Jr., points out, however, the war on crime that began in the 1970s was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers. In Locking Up Our Own, he seeks to understand why.

Forman shows us 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, feared that the gains of the civil rights movement were being undermined by lawlessness—and thus 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.

A former D.C. public defender, Forman tells riveting stories of politicians, community activists, police officers, defendants, and crime victims. He writes with compassion about individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas—from the men and women he represented in court to officials struggling to respond to a public safety emergency. Locking Up Our Own enriches our understanding of why our society became so punitive and offers important lessons to anyone concerned about the future of race and the criminal justice system in this country.

Title:Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America
Format Type:Kindle Edition
Number of Pages:320 pages
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    Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America Reviews

  • Sarah
    Apr 10, 2017

    An excellent book! I was reading on my iPad and I tend to read very slowly that way... but I would find time for this book. Engaging, understandably infuriating, and with a tone I found passionate but...

  • Bonnie
    May 14, 2017

    An honest and thoughtful look at how we got to the War on Drugs, and why so many members of the black community supported a tough on crime approach. Forman is a law professor and he can sometimes come...

  • Casey
    May 18, 2017

    I learned so much from this book. It really challenged my understanding of mandatory minimums and the war on crime. At its best, it is a deep dive into the history as related by old newspaper coverage...

  • Zach
    May 15, 2017

    Masterful work of nonfiction. Shows how delicate the balance must be between demanding equal rights and preventing the oppressed and addicted from further disenfranchisement. Jeff Sessions could learn...

  • Christine
    May 14, 2017

    The title is a little misleading, because while the story and lessons learned have wider implications, this is a book about D.C. Still, it's an important story that hasn't been addressed head-on by an...

  • Barbara Zitrick
    May 19, 2017

    This is a thorough evaluation of racial/ imprisonment assessment of how we have failed through our justice system. ...

  • Jeff Berman
    Apr 30, 2017

    My friend and former colleague at the Public Defender Service in DC has published an extraordinary book chronicling the history and impact of political and policy choices over the past 50 years on mas...

  • Mills College Library
    May 19, 2017

    364.97308 F7242 2017...