Forum on Mass Incarceration

2018 Pulitzer Prize. Washington Post best-seller. A New York Times top 10 book of 2017. These are only some of the accolades awarded to the most recent book by the Salisbury Forum’s guest speaker, J. Skelly Writing Professor at the Yale Law School and accomplished author, James Forman Jr.
Dr. Forman wrote Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, an examination of the ways in which African-Americans have supported tough-on-crime legislation and mass incarceration. For the final Salisbury Forum of 2019, Forman spoke at 7:30 p.m. on November 15 in Walker Auditorium. Professor Forman’s talk laid out the themes of his book, examining the roots of mass incarceration in the U.S. and the ongoing impact of the “war on crime” on people of color in America’s urban centers. Frank Fitzmaurice, a board member of the Salisbury Forum, said, “[As a] former public defender, his talk covered issues that have had a profound effect on the American system of criminal justice.”
Many Hotchkiss students looked forward to Forman’s talk because they expected it to shed light on prevalent issues in America. Michael Zhang ’21, board member of the Hotchkiss Democrats, said, “While a lot of people are familiar with direct forms of racism, like segregation during the Civil Rights movement, the majority aren’t aware of the more insidious and hidden forms that racism has taken in recent years, [such as] mass incarceration and the war on crime. Learning more about these topics will prepare us to address these issues in the future.”
Mary Oppenheimer, president of the Salisbury Forum, was pleased by students’ positive reaction to the Forum. She said, “[I am] delighted [that] Hotchkiss students are interested in Salisbury Forum speakers. We aim to bring stimulating, knowledgeable speakers to our community, and appreciate that [students] are interested in learning about topics that are of importance to our community and nation.”
The Salisbury Forum hosts expert speakers and screenings of renowned documentary films for residents living in and around Salisbury. These events, which are free to the public, expose people to topics of significance and are meant to foster a love of learning and open-mindedness. Previous forums have addressed topics including democracy, foreign relations, religion, healthcare, and housing.
The Salisbury Forum’s first event was held in November 2005, when veteran journalist Sander Vanocur spoke at the Salisbury School about democracy and the media. Since then, Salisbury Forum events have taken place at Hotchkiss, Salisbury School, and Housatonic Valley Regional High School.
The next forum will be a screening of Parkland Rising, a documentary on the Parkland shooting and student-led activism that followed the tragedy. The event will take place on January 26, 2020, at the Millerton Moviehouse.