Magazine article Corrections Today

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

Magazine article Corrections Today

Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America

Article excerpt

James Forman Jr., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2017, 306 pp.

Corrections professionals and graduate students from multiple disciplines will find "Locking Up Our Own" by James Forman Jr. a thought-provoking read. Forman's previous experience as a District of Columbia public defender brings a personal view to the history of African-Americans in the criminal justice system. Within the text, he asks the following: How did black Americans themselves inadvertently escalate the war on crime, resulting in more minorities in prison?

Forman debates how racism narrowed the options available to black citizens and elected officials in their fight against crime, as he challenges the claim that African-Americans protest police violence while ignoring violence by black criminals. Forman states, "African-Americans have always viewed the protection of black lives as a civil rights issue, whether the threat comes from police officers or street criminals." Thus, black officials within the criminal justice system held their own to a higher standard, leading to an over-representation of black individuals in the system. The argument goes like this: "I made it, you can too, and it's your fault you failed. You didn't try hard enough. Martin Luther King Jr. would be ashamed of you for wasting the opportunities handed to you."

In parts one and two, Forman goes through discussions of the war on drugs and decriminalization of marijuana, as well as mandatory sentencing policies that give rise to a "lock them up and throw away the key" mentality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.