Jonathan Simon: Sadly, the punitive storm that has arisen around the Francisco Sanchez and killing of Kathryn Steinle is a reminder of how powerful the hold of crime panic journalism, and hyperventilating crime warrior politicians like Feinstein remains on our public policy and how slow reform will probably be.
Jonathan Simon: The real guerilla war is being waged by death states that continue to pursue executions even as crime remains at historic lows and public opinion turns against this archaic ritual.
Jonathan Simon: We need something like the police, but not “the police” as we’ve known them. Police are important, but they are not like air. We can live without them when that is necessary. And we can reinvent them.
Jonathan Simon: America’s war on crime has made local police forces the front-line troops of a relentless campaign to clear urban areas of those perceived to be a threat to public safety.
Jonathan Simon: Human dignity arose on the streets of Ferguson, hovering over Michael Brown’s body, growing ever larger as that body was degraded in the hot sun. Not his soul or his ghost, but the specter of the humanity he shared with all of us.
Jonathan Simon: We may disagree on who belongs and who does not belong in prison, or on how long prison sentences should be, or what goals those sentences should be meted out to accomplish.
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.
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.
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.
California Prison Healthcare — A prison system that can’t get that right shouldn’t be allowed to continue to operate prisons.
Governing Through Crime — We must demand a full dismantling of both these legacies of the era of governing through crime.
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.
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.