About Jonathan Simon

Jonathan Simon is a professor of law at UC Berkeley and associate dean of the Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy program. An expert in criminal justice issues, he is the author of two books, "Poor Discipline," on the history of the prison parole system, and "Governing Through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear." Both received a distinguished book award from the American Sociological Association. An active blogger, he posts frequently on his own site, “Governing Through Crime, and as a guest commentator on other blogs.

California’s Broken Punishment Paradigm

California Death Penalty Overturned

Jonathan Simon: Judge Carney reviewed California’s system, which has handed out around 900 death sentences but only executed 13 people, and concluded that the system was unconstitutionally arbitrary because no rational basis exists distinguishing those actually executed from many not, and likely never, executed.

Botched Execution

mary-fallin-590

Jonathan Simon: Where Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin and the state’s legislators wrote the book on botched is on the “carelessly” branch of the term.

Dying Inside: Lifers, the Dying and California’s Correctional Paradigm

prison_hospice-600

Jonathan Simon: Prison sentences must have limits to be rational and just and almost everyone agrees that California’s years of penal populism led legislators and prosecutors to produce sentences that having little relationship to either moral desert or risk.

Why Can’t California Get Prison Healthcare Right?

kelso-600

California Prison Healthcare — A prison system that can’t get that right shouldn’t be allowed to continue to operate prisons.

Mass Incarceration, Mass Deportation

Prison Industrial Complex (9)

Governing Through Crime — We must demand a full dismantling of both these legacies of the era of governing through crime.

California Needs Fresh Start in Corrections

Jeffrey Beard

Jonathan Simon: Secretary Beard’s public statements since coming to the job reflect a complete failure to acknowledge the gravity of the human rights abuses his agency is guilty of and an apparent commitment to defend the status quo at any cost.

Run Snowden, Run!

snowden

Jonathan Simon: In the age of Bush and Obama, American punishments reflect a level of viciousness and degradation that no principled person should be willing to accept for themselves or others.

Hunger Strike

pelican bay

Jonathan Simon: In California’s SHU, scores of prisoners have served more than twenty years of such conditions, and hundreds for more than ten.

Why Jerry Brown Bucks Prison Realignment

california-prisons-590

Gov. Brown’s recent actions show that it is not just the most visible partisans of the “prison industrial complex,” who we must persuade or overcome, but unfortunately the political establishment of the State.

How Not to Govern Through Crime: Insights on Bullying

bullying

Jonathan Simon: While bullying has long been a noted feature and minor concern of childhood and schooling, the emergence of a distinctive government-rationality around crime in recent decades, has led to laws that compel schools to treat bullying more like a real crime and law that make it a crime.

Penal Trends: Strange Weather or Climate Change?

barbed wire

Jonathan Simon: Are recent changes in prison-growth patterns, judicial decisions, and electoral results variations within the norm, or evidence of a more profound change that could mark the end of our 40-year experiment with mass incarceration?

Why Death Row Inmates Oppose Life Without Parole

jonathan simon

Jonathan Simon: People on death row, not just folks in an abstract all night dorm room discussion about whether death or LWOP is worst, but folks actually condemned to die, prefer to continue with their death sentence.