Locking Up Our Own

  • by James Forman Jr.
  • Narrated by Kevin R. Free
  • 8 hrs and 39 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

An original and consequential argument about race, crime, and the law.
Today, Americans are debating our criminal justice system with new urgency. Mass incarceration and aggressive police tactics - and their impact on people of color - are feeding outrage and a consensus that something must be done. But what if we only know half the story? In Locking Up Our Own, the Yale legal scholar and former public defender James Forman Jr. weighs the tragic role that some African Americans themselves played in escalating the war on crime. As Forman shows, the first substantial cohort of black mayors, judges, and police chiefs took office around the country amid a surge in crime. Many came to believe that tough measures - such as stringent drug and gun laws and "pretext traffic stops" in poor African American neighborhoods - were needed to secure a stable future for black communities. Some politicians and activists saw criminals as a "cancer" that had to be cut away from the rest of black America. Others supported harsh measures more reluctantly, believing they had no other choice in the face of a public safety emergency. Drawing on his experience as a public defender and focusing on Washington, DC, Forman writes with compassion for individuals trapped in terrible dilemmas - from the young men and women he defended to officials struggling to cope with an impossible situation. The result is an original view of our justice system as well as a moving portrait of the human beings caught in its coils.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Find out what to do about mass incarceration

What did you love best about Locking Up Our Own?

Not only gives a missing piece of the history of mass incarceration, but gives ideas on how to correct the situation.


What was one of the most memorable moments of Locking Up Our Own?

Story of child charged with assault with a deadly weapon after throwing a carton of chocolate milk in the cafeteria.


What about Kevin R. Free’s performance did you like?

Good diction, good cadence, not overly dramatic. Voice does not interfere with the words.


What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Unintended consequences of folks trying to have positive impact for justice


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- Edwin T. Weber

Book Details

  • Release Date: 04-19-2017
  • Publisher: Recorded Books