In the News

Barry Krisberg in the news:

New judge taking over prison civil rights lawsuit as solutions sought

Barry Krisberg quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), September 15, 2014

“While there may be arguments about the best way to accomplish services for mentally ill inmates, we’re no longer arguing whether we should or shouldn’t do it.”

Proposition 47 ceases criminal charges; stirs little reaction

Barry Krisberg quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, September 3, 2014

“I think what is fascinating is that there seems to be almost no opposition to this,” says Barry Krisberg. “You’d think in the usual California politics you’d have the right saying this and the left saying something else. But there’s been no campaigning (in opposition) to speak of, no one is spending any money on defeating it and the polls have been running 60 percent positive.”

Early jail releases have surged since California’s prison realignment

Barry Krisberg quoted in Los Angeles Times, August 16, 2014

Krisberg said stopping the early releases would require a fundamental change in California’s criminal justice system. Just “shifting the location of incarceration” from prisons to jails doesn’t change much, he said.

As juvenile arrests plummet, California still investing in incarceration facilities

Barry Krisberg quoted in The Chronicle for Social Change, July 23, 2014

“The traditional view toward at-risk youth is to lock them up and give them treatment,” said Barry Krisberg…. “Quality treatment behind a razor wire doesn’t ring true.”

A city that pays criminals to behave

Barry Krisberg quoted in Aljazeera America, June 6, 2014

“This culture is fixated on punishment and control as the way in which we deal with crime and other problems. It’s essentially a military solution,” said Barry Krisberg … adding that the city’s high crime rates, historically, are rooted in severe poverty, isolation and dim prospects for growth. “The research has been clear that doesn’t work very well.”

In gentrifying neighborhoods, residents say private patrols keep them safe

Barry Krisberg and David Sklansky quoted in Al Jazeera America, May 30, 2014

Some criminal justice experts say the solution to crime isn’t more patrolling but greater opportunities for young people and people coming out of prison. “If you want to bring down robbery, you’ve got to reduce the unemployment rate in the city,” says Barry Krisberg.

“There’s a degree of ambiguity about how private patrols actually operate,” said David Sklansky.

Ohio to agree to reform, eventually eliminate juvenile solitary confinement

Barry Krisberg quoted in Aljazeera America, May 21, 2014

Krisberg, meanwhile, said that putting a young person already upset and going through an emotional crisis into seclusion can often make the problem worse, adding “there’s not a shred of evidence that putting somebody in solitary confinement helps them.”

New criteria for clemency opens up application process for federal inmates

Barry Krisberg interviewed by KPCC-FM, Take Two, April 22, 2014

“We enacted all these laws, mistakenly thinking that this was going to deter drug use, and it didn’t. Now people are looking at those sentences and saying that they were wildly disproportionate, that they use up a tremendous amount of incarceration costs, and that we really need to do something different if we want to reduce drug use in American society.”

The ‘superpredator’ scare

Barry Krisberg interviewed by The New York Times Retro Report, April 6, 2014

“This country went into a moral panic about ‘superpredators.’ But the calculations were wrong. They made it up…. It was a myth, and, unfortunately, it was a myth that some academics jumped onto. The fear of the ‘superpredator’ led to a tremendous number of laws and policies that we’re just now recovering from.”

Re-entry programs & recidivism: the connection continued

Barry Krisberg quoted in Corrections, March 24, 2014

Barry Krisberg … noted that, “Everything we know from the most rigorous research suggests if you want to reduce recidivism rates, you have to address housing, security, availability of jobs, and social connections.”


Why for-profit prisons house more inmates of color

Barry Krisberg interviewed on KPCC, March 13, 2014

Barry Krisberg … says the findings surprised him. “I had assumed private prisons were taking a lot of low-risk inmates,” he says. “That if you went to a private prison, you’d find a lot of old, Anglo prisoners. That’s not the case.”

Saratoga teen’s suicide spurs ‘Audrie’s Law’ on cyberbullying

Barry Krisberg quoted in San Jose Mercury News, March 6, 2014

The proposed legislation is “moderate and reasonable…. What we see here are some necessary fixes to the current law,” Krisberg said Thursday. Some past legislation, proposed after sensational crimes “went overboard and ended up being a Trojan horse for what I would call extremely conservative reforms.” But in the case of the proposed “Audrie’s Law,” he said, “this law is very targeted on specific problems.”


Federal court ruling could mean the parole of more murderers in California

Barry Krisberg quoted on KPCC, March 3, 2014

“It was a dramatic change in how long the parole board could make parolees wait for their next hearing,” said Barry Krisberg. “The evidence was pretty clear that this was causing people to stay in prison longer.”

Sentencing commission could bring major reforms

Barry Krisberg quoted in San Francisco Daily Journal, February 27, 2014 (registration required)
Krisberg, of UC Berkeley, said the state should model the U.S. Sentencing Commission in creating guidelines for judges…. That approach, Krisberg said, has been modeled by other states. “In almost every state that has gone to a guidelines approach, it has resulted in violent offenders serving more time, property and drug offenders serving less time, and basically overall the prison population is stabilizing or going down,” he said.

Softening law on hard drugs creates unlikely bedfellows

Barry Krisberg quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, January 30, 2014
We have the political theorists on board. What about average, middle-class Americans? Barry Krisberg … who has been advising the supporters of the bill, says you might be surprised. “If they can get it to the ballot, it will pass,” Krisberg says. “There’s been polling on this, and 60 percent of Californians say just because someone uses drugs, they don’t want that person to be incarcerated.”

Inmate release proposal is seen as watershed

Barry Krisberg quoted in Daily Journal, January 27, 2014 (registration required)
“It looks like the state has come a way down the road in terms of embracing reforms that have been on the table before and they haven’t considered before,” said Barry Krisberg.

Audrie Pott: Boys admit sexually assaulting Saratoga teen who committed suicide

Barry Krisberg quoted in San Jose Mercury News, January 14, 2014
“It’s what I call justice by geography. The juvenile court has wide disparities in the amount of penalties it connects to specific behaviors,” said Barry Krisberg …. “On average, Santa Clara (County) has lower sentences than other places. They’ve embraced the treatment and rehabilitation strategy”—a mission of California’s welfare and institutions code—”so this doesn’t completely surprise me.”

Gascón push to reduce most nonviolent crimes to misdemeanors

Barry Krisberg quoted in The San Francisco Chronicle, December 19, 2013 (registration required)

Krisberg said the ballot measure, if enacted, would result in “significant declines in the number of people in state prison….” “There appears to be tremendous support for the ideas in this proposal,” said Krisberg. “The question is, can they get it on the ballot? Collecting signatures takes a lot of money. But if it was on the ballot, based on the polling data I have seen, it would pass overwhelmingly.”

California juvenile incarceration rate down

Barry Krisberg interviewed on KGO 810 News, December 18, 2013

But there’s still work to be done. “The one area that still needs quite a bit of work is mental health care for mentally ill kids across the nation. It’s a problem,” says Barry Krisberg.

Teen avoids jail with affluence defense in deadly drunk-driving case

Barry Krisberg quoted in AlJazeera America, December 12, 2013

Barry Krisberg, a senior fellow at UC Berkeley Law School, told Al Jazeera that while there are factors that mitigate criminal liability—such as mental illness, age and developmental disabilities—economic status is not one of them. “It just doesn’t make sense. The notion that because someone is wealthy, we shouldn’t hold them accountable is nutty.”