In the News


Franklin Zimring in the news:



Years of growing crime weigh on Antioch residents

Franklin Zimring quoted in San Jose Mercury News, May 26, 2015

UC Berkeley Professor Frank Zimring, who has written books about America’s crime rate, says ascertaining the root causes of crime is more complicated than many believe. He looked at declining crime rates in the 1990s, for instance, and determined that there was “practically nothing” that could be used to explain crime’s decline during that era. “I ended up calling it ‘criminological astrology,’” Zimring said.


Parole could end inmate’s effort to have sex change surgery

Franklin Zimring quoted in San Jose Mercury News, May 20, 2015

“It is precisely the sort of ironic set of incentives and disincentives that are created by the patchwork nature of medical coverage that we have,” Zimring said. “In the general society, the care that is provided is considerably less generous.”


Conservative Nebraska looks at abolishing death penalty

Franklin Zimring quoted in The New York Times, May 4, 2015

“If New Hampshire wanted to abolish the death penalty, Nebraska could set a terrific precedent,” said Frank Zimring. … “But it probably wouldn’t work in Texas or Missouri.” Nebraska’s debate shows the topic no longer is a “third rail” issue among conservatives, Zimring said.


Drop in crime offers hope of cost cuts

Franklin Zimring and Barry Krisberg cited in UT San Diego, April 24, 2015

Zimring: Because of prison realignment (to county jails) and other policies in response to federal prison overcrowding orders, California has undertaken “a pretty substantial experiment in decarceration,” he added, and yet crime just keeps falling.

Krisberg says many Republicans—typically leaders of the law-and-order coalition—now often back changes that help reduce costs and incarceration rates, even as some Democrats oppose them because of their closeness to the prison guards and police unions.


Video in South Carolina police shooting makes building a defense that much harder

Franklin Zimring quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 9, 2015

“You’ve got a very extreme case,” said Franklin Zimring. … “There are 500 killings by police in the U.S. each year. How many of them are realistic candidates for the criminal conviction of officers? They would be on the fingers of one hand…. This may very well be the one.”


Killings by police are almost a daily occurrence in America

Franklin Zimring writes for San Francisco Chronicle, February 27, 2015

The failure to collect and audit accurate information on killings by the police is a major scandal. 2015 should be the year when effective reporting of police use of fatal force becomes a practical reality. This will help reveal the high volume of chronic government violence that otherwise is disregarded as just the way things are.


Experts wary of push to dump grand juries in cop shooting cases

Franklin Zimring quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), February 18, 2015

A prosecutor “works with police and depends upon them,” Zimring said. Even with Mitchell’s bill blocking a prosecutor from using a grand jury to escape accountability for a decision, “all of the problems I mentioned of both prosecutorial power and a high burden of proof” still work to protect police, he said.


Bay Area cities’ homicide rates show striking drop

Franklin Zimring quoted in San Francisco Gate, January 18, 2015

“They’re good numbers — they’re wonderful news in terms of feeling less at risk,” Zimring said. “They are not clearly indicating that something particular worked. The person who reads Bay Area homicide numbers should be a cheerful agnostic.”


Lack of date on police shootings a ‘scandal’

Franklin Zimring interviewed on KQED, January 13, 2015

The records that we keep at the federal level of national patterns in police use of deadly force are not audited; they’re essentially voluntary. In terms of the police, they turn in this data when they want to—and it’s very uncarefully classified. As far as the Federal Bureau of Investigation is concerned, every killing by a police officer in uniform in the United States is presumably the justifiable killing of a felon.


In a safer age, U.S. rethinks its ‘Tough on Crime’ system

Franklin Zimring quoted in The New York Times, January 13, 2015

“Canada, with practically none of the policy changes we point to here, had a comparable decline in crime over the same period,” said Franklin E. Zimring. … He described the quest for an explanation as “criminological astrology.”


NYC crime stats show homicides dropped 2.4 percent in 2014

Franklin Zimring quoted in Newsday, December 31, 2014

“If it stays this low it remains unmitigated good news in ways that couldn’t have been anticipated, even just a decade ago,” said noted criminologist and law professor Franklin Zimring.


Protests against grand jury decisions are especially vocal in Bay Area

Franklin Zimring quoted in Los Angeles Times, December 8, 2014

But in what Zimring called “the irony of public protest 2014,” it is the most fringe elements who have captured the spotlight. “The message may be lost,” he said, “but the attention is focused on people who want it.”


De Blasio attends crime data briefing

Franklin Zimring quoted in The Wall Street Journal, (registration required), August 22, 2014

Franklin Zimring, a professor at Berkeley School of Law, said the mayor’s presence at the briefing indicated he was “taking crime very seriously.”


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.”