James Forman Jr. named the Wright Professor of Law

Yale Law School Professor James Forman Jr.
James Forman Jr.

James Forman Jr., recently appointed as the J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law, teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law and policy, juvenile justice, and education law and policy.

Forman’s particular interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions. He teaches criminal law, a seminar titled “Race, Class and Punishment,” and another seminar, “Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice,” in which Yale law students study alongside incarcerated men and women.

The Yale professor’s first book, “Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America,” appeared on many top 10 lists, including the New York Times’ “10 Best Books of 2017,” and was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

A graduate of Brown University, Forman earned his J.D. in 1992 from Yale Law School. He then served as a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and 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 both juveniles and adults charged with crimes. He taught at Georgetown Law School from 2003 to 2011, when he joined the Yale faculty.

Forman is the co-founder of the Maya Angelou Public Charter School in Washington, D.C., an alternative school for school dropouts and youth who had previously been arrested. After a decade, the institution expanded and agreed to run a school inside the city’s juvenile prison. That school, which had long been a failure, has been transformed under the leadership of the Maya Angelou staff; the court monitor overseeing the city’s juvenile system called the turnaround “extraordinary.”

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