In the News


Franklin Zimring in the news:



California’s death penalty ruled unconstitutional

Franklin Zimring interviewed by KPCC-FM, July 17, 2014

“His finding … is that, as applied to a sentence like the one that brought this suit, the death penalty system in California violates the 8th amendment. If that stands, when appealed, for everyone in the position of this defendant, the death penalty would not be available. The convictions can still stand, but executing people under those circumstances, the judge said, is a violation of the 8th amendment.”


U.S. edges closer to Europe in attitude toward capital punishment

Franklin Zimring quoted in The New York Times, June 16, 2014

“The first thing that happens is a radical downsizing in the scale of the use of capital punishment,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor and death penalty specialist, describing the typical process through which nations move toward ending the death penalty. Through most of the last century, “there was a strategic withdrawal from capital punishment as business-as-usual in European nations, long before abolitions started to spread.”


San Quentin plans psychiatric hospital for death row inmates

Franklin Zimring quoted in Los Angeles Times, June 10, 2014

“This is the only place on Earth where you’d be talking about building a psychiatric hospital for condemned prisoners,” said Berkeley law professor Franklin Zimring, who has written about the U.S. capital punishment system. “It is a measure of American greatness and American silliness at the same time.” Federal courts have ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute people who are not aware of what is happening to them. “We are curing them to make them executable,” Zimring said.


How California Chrome’s rags-to-riches story makes America great

Franklin Zimring writes for The New York Post, May 31, 2014

Thoroughbreds are supposed to cost millions; “top quality” studs cost $150,000 alone. Chrome is the $10,000 horse—the one that’s not supposed to compete. Except California Chrome kept winning. And with the help of a 77-year-old trainer—who had never entered a horse in the big races of the east—Chrome easily took the first two races of the Triple Crown. Our nation was built on stories like this. The little guy who isn’t supposed to win but triumphs. The hero who isn’t from the right class, or the right neighborhood, or the right tax bracket, who succeeds wildly.


Shootings in NYC continue to rise, even as serious crimes decline

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, May 29, 2014

Professor Franklin Zimring … said that since shootings are not considered a serious crime statistic under FBI data reporting rules and aren’t capable of being audited, there is a risk that shootings in New York may actually be underreported. “My guess it is only a partial count of the episodes in which guns are fired in New York City,” Zimring said of the current shooting data.


Inmates’ newspaper covers a world behind San Quentin’s walls

Franklin Zimring quoted in The New York Times, May 20, 2014

“The leading public health problem in prison is boredom,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a law professor and criminologist at the University of California, Berkeley. The newspaper, he said, “is an operational antidepressant that keeps its participants structured and psychologically well organized.”


SF family of man killed by neighbor calls for murder charge

Franklin Zimring and Andrea Roth quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, May 8, 2014

“The question is whether there’s an imminent threat of bodily injury, and home invasion is very high on the list of things people get frightened of, particularly in the middle of the night,” said Franklin Zimring. “This case is well within the confines of circumstances where citizens will not be criminally prosecuted.”

Andrea Roth said that if a jury was asked to determine whether a shooter in Kachepa’s situation reasonably feared for his life, the panel would be “allowed to consider that this was an elderly man at 2 a.m. who faced an intruder who broke the doorknob.”


Will affluent Oaklanders support renewal of anti-crime tax?

Franklin Zimring interviewed by KQED-FM News, April 29, 2014

“You cannot assume that it’s a zero sum game between private security and public security,” Zimring says. “It may be that the people who care about community safety are willing to invest in both directions.”


Oakland police stops blacks at higher rate

Frank Zimring quoted in The San Francisco Chronicle, March 24, 2014 (link inactive)

The data also comes out at time when the department is working to reduce crime and rebuild public trust in one of the most dangerous cities in America, said Frank Zimring…. “This is a real dilemma, because on one hand there’s no evidence that the police are using anything other than crime-controlled criteria to select the targets for their stops, but on the other hand, most of the people they stop are African-Americans,” Zimring said. “There is no clean ‘Everybody wins,’ solution to this.”


Divide emerges over future of interim Oakland police chief

Franklin Zimring quoted in Inside Bay Area, February 21, 2014
“The best argument for an inside appointment is the less-than-stellar opportunity that a police chief of Oakland might represent to the 10 best young police administrators in the country,” said Franklin Zimring, a criminologist and law professor at UC Berkeley. “I certainly wouldn’t put it in first place.”


NYPD: As stop-frisk declines, gunfire increases

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, December 15, 2013

Franklin Zimring, a professor at Berkeley Law in California, said the size and duration of the changes in the number of shootings in New York have to be watched. “There could be random fluctuations,” Zimring said. “You have to imagine it is like baseball statistics,” said Zimring, who has studied New York City crime trends. If a hot hitter suddenly strikes out three times, what he then does in his next 10 at bats becomes important, he said.


A top cop’s global rep

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, December 5, 2013

“The very best news about a Bratton police commissionership at this point in New York history is the record in Los Angeles,” Franklin Zimring, a professor at Berkeley Law at the University California. “He stepped into a department with enormous problems. Through tighter and strategic management in Los Angeles … [Bratton] managed to improve the reputation of the department … in a relatively short period of time.”


Bratton to lead New York police for second time

Franklin Zimring quoted in The New York Times, December 5, 2013

Criminologists have long debated how much of New York’s crime decline can be attributed to the changes he put into place, and they have struggled to explain the strong downward trends across the country through the 1990s. ”If we can’t explain that in Toledo, we can’t explain it in New York either,” said Franklin E. Zimring, a criminologist at Berkeley Law School who has written on New York City’s crime decline. But, he added, ”A lot of the long term success of policing in New York is something that is properly credited” to Mr. Bratton.


SF becomes Gotham, with Mar as extra villain

Franklin Zimring quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, November 17, 2013

As UC Berkeley Law School Professor Franklin Zimring said, “Whenever you have people thinking it will be harder to buy tomorrow, they buy more today.”


The Rose City’s homicide drought

Franklin Zimring quoted in Portland Tribune, October 31, 2013

Police can’t anticipate an argument to be there to stop the escalation, so for years, Zimring says, he believed police could only react once a homicide was committed. But studies show that those escalating arguments are not completely random. “It keeps happening, the same night and close to the liquor store, in hot spots or open-air drug markets,” Zimring says. “It has extremely predictable geography.”


Alternative program gives federal defendants a second chance

Franklin Zimring quoted in Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2013

Any program that keeps people out of prison is a step in the right direction, said Berkeley law professor Frank Zimring. Still, after decades of skyrocketing incarceration rates—in 1979, 44% of federal felony convictions went to prison, compared with 91% in 2008, Zimring said—programs like CASA are “trying to take a little nibble out of Godzilla.”


False premise of gun sentences

Franklin Zimring writes for Chicago Sun-Times, October 15, 2013

Don’t take my word for it that the backgrounds and motives of people who commit gun-carrying offenses — and their danger to the community — are too varied for a mandatory minimum penalty to be fair and reasonable. Ask the prosecutors in Cook County, who allow and agree to plea bargaining in the vast majority of felony convictions for carrying guns.


Number of murders in NYC dips to 1950s level

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, September 26, 2013

The problem for the new mayor and police commissioner, Zimring said, is that the phenomenally good results so far in 2013 set a high standard. If homicides increase in 2014, some may view it as a failure, he said. “If 240 homicides in almost nine months of New York experience becomes the new benchmark, I am not running for commissioner,” Zimring said.


Oakland’s aim

Franklin Zimring quoted in the Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2013

“It doesn’t isolate the big cities in California, it isolates one city in California,” said … Franklin Zimring. “It says, ‘OK, Oakland, you’ve got a big problem now, let’s see what you want to add to the existing California policy that responds to the nature of firearms violence Oakland-style.’” The Oakland experiment, Zimring said, could serve to “test the waters of local control and to see whether the political process that produces city-level gun policy can get inclusive and responsible, and whether it can get specific and selective in ways that can solve the problem.”


NYPD data shows crime drops with fewer stops

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, September 5, 2013

The sky hasn’t fallen as stop-and-frisks declined, raising doubts about a close relationship between the activity and crime levels, Zimring said. “It may be more subtle or it may take more time,” he said of the crime trends. “But the easiest kind of cause and effect inference to come from the data, doesn’t seem to be there.”