James Forman Jr. Elected to American Academy of Arts & Sciences

James Forman Jr.

J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law James Forman Jr. ’92 has been elected to the 2023 class of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

This year, the 269 members elected to the Academy in 2023 are drawn from  academia, the arts, industry, policy, research, and science, and include more than 40 International Honorary Members (IHM) from 23 countries.

“With the election of these members, the Academy is honoring excellence, innovation, and leadership and recognizing a broad array of stellar accomplishments, said David W. Oxtoby, President of the American Academy. “We hope every new member celebrates this achievement and joins our work advancing the common good.”

The Academy is an honorary society and independent research center founded in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock and others who “envisioned an organization that would recognize accomplished individuals and engage them in addressing the greatest challenges facing the young nation,” according to the Academy.

“In its earliest days, the Academy sought members who would help address issues and opportunities confronting a young nation,” said Nancy C. Andrews, Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors. “We feel a similar urgency and have elected a class that brings diverse expertise to meet the pressing challenges and possibilities that America and the world face today.”

Forman teaches and writes in the areas of criminal procedure and criminal law policy, constitutional law, juvenile justice, and education law and policy. Among his interests are schools, prisons, and police, and those institutions’ race and class dimensions.

Forman is the Faculty Director of the Law and Racial Justice Center, which brings together New Haveners, Yale students, staff, and faculty, local government officials, and local and national experts to imagine and implement projects that advance racial justice. Forman also founded Access to Law School, a pipeline program serving first-generation and underrepresented minority students from New Haven who wish to pursue a legal career.

Among his courses, Forman teaches criminal law and a seminar called Inside Out: Issues in Criminal Justice, in which Yale Law School students study alongside men and women incarcerated in state and federal prisons.

Forman attended public schools in Detroit and New York City before graduating from the Atlanta Public Schools. After attending Brown University and Yale Law School, he worked as a law clerk for Judge William Norris of the 9th U.S. 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.

Forman’s first book, Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, was named one of The New York Times’ 10 Best Books of 2017, and was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences are leaders in arts and sciences, business, philanthropy, and public affairs who explore challenges in today’s society and apply their expertise to provide solutions for the common good. The multidisciplinary work of the Academy’s independent research center provides solutions for complex challenges. The Academy’s projects and publications are focused on the arts and humanities, democracy and justice, education, energy and the environment, global affairs, and science and technology.