Locking Up Our Own: Crime & Punishment In Black America

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Item#: 9780374537449
Author Forman, James
Cover Paperback
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Long-listed for the National Book Award<
>One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2017<
>Short-listed for the Inaugural Goddard Riverside Stephan Russo Book Prize for Social Justice<
>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. InLocking 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 em
aced tough-on-crime measures, including longer sentences and aggressive police tactics. In the face of skyrocketing murder rates andthe 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 Ownenriches 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.