In the News


Jonathan Simon in the news:



Man convicted of attempted murder of UC Berkeley student sentenced to 170 years to life

Jonathan Simon quoted in The Daily Californian, June 16, 2014

But opponents of long prison sentences — such as Jonathan Simon, a professor at the UC Berkeley School of Law — argue punishments of the length Jarvis received exact a psychological toll and violate the Eighth Amendment, which prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. “A penalty that serves no penological purpose can only be degrading,” Simon said in an email.


Is New York a model for fixing California prisons?

Jonathan Simon quoted in San Francisco Business Times, March 5, 2014

Law professor Jonathan Simon … pointed to prison reforms in the Empire State as a model that should be followed here in the Golden State. Simon, who teaches an undergraduate course on prisons, wrote on UC Berkeley’s official blog that although New York has a long history of “bad penal policy choices,” it also tends to fix those bad choices more quickly than other states, particularly California.


Beard must go: California needs a fresh start in Corrections

Jonathan Simon writes for San Francisco Bay View, August 22, 2013

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. Recent examples include his petulant refusal to take seriously the danger posed by Valley Fever to vulnerable inmates.


Leniency shown to Louisville murderer James Seay raises questions

Jonathan Simon quoted in The Courier-Journal, April 28, 2013

Kentucky was one of many states that followed federal changes in the late 1990s that made sentencing stricter, said Jonathan Simon, a University of California-Berkeley law professor. “I don’t think people convicted today are going to get out as early anymore,” Simon said.


Gov Jerry Brown vows fight with judges over prisons

Jonathan Simon quoted in Los Angeles Times, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Simon, a law professor at UC Berkeley, said the Supreme Court could lighten the pressure by giving the state more time to meet the population cap. He noted the high court backed the limit only narrowly, in a 5-4 vote. “Will Justice Kennedy look at the progress … and say good enough?” Simon said, referring to the judge usually considered the court’s swing vote. “Quite possibly.”


America’s safer streets

Jonathan Simon quoted in The Economist, August 25, 2012

An emerging challenge for police in some cities is that tactics that prove effective in the short term may also lose them trust. Their widely used “stop-and frisk” powers in New York City, for example, may have taken thousands of guns off the street, but they have also led to furious allegations of racial profiling. “We’ve figured out that encounters with young people reduce violence, but they also have negative effects,” says Mr. Simon. “Let’s see if we can separate the two.”


Mass incarceration as a public policy

Jonathan Simon cited in The Huffington Post, The Blog, April 24, 2012

Although Professor Simon concluded that the era of mass incarceration has come to an end, too expensive to continue as a public policy, he cautioned that no one should expect incarceration rates to drop precipitously. The end of “mass incarceration” only meant that the hyperbolic growth of the past 30 years would stop.


Are Stay-Away Orders Against UC Berkeley Students Unconstitutional?

Jonathan Simon quoted in East Bay Express, March 28, 2012

Law School professor Jonathan Simon said there is a “very real concern that the stay-away orders are pretextual” and meant specifically to chill First Amendment activity…. Overall, he sees the Alameda County DA’s use of stay-aways against Occupy Cal protesters as reflective of concerns that Occupy Cal “would become an extension of a strong Occupy Oakland movement,” and is meant to serve as a “cold, calculating deterrent to students that this is what can happen if you step out of line.”


Stay-away orders against Occupy Cal protesters disputed

Jonathan Simon quoted in The Daily Californian, March 22, 2012

UC Berkeley School of Law professor Jonathan Simon said in an email that court-issued stay-away orders in general are “a very serious infringement of fundamental rights” and “should never be used unless a very credible threat exists,” but that they are “not uncommon” when there are concerns about ongoing violations.


Jonathan Simon Participates in Police Review Forum

The Daily Californian, February 6, 2012 by Chloe Hunt
http://bit.ly/w6HZ7B

UC Berkeley School of Law Professor Jonathan Simon, asked by the board to be a faculty representative to the Nov. 9 events, said he thought members of the community facing charges should not speak at the forums.


Jonathan Simon Thinks Death Penalty Is Two-in-One Sentence

KALW News, The Informant, July 18, 2011 by Sara Mayeux
http://informant.kalwnews.org/2011/07/the-high-cost-of-capital-punishment-in-california/

Given these delays, Berkeley professor Jonathan Simon has argued that, in essence, a California death sentence is actually two sentences in one: both a life-in-prison sentence and a death sentence.


Jonathon Simon Faults Mehserle Ruling

The Bay Citizen, June 13, 2011 by Nicole Jones
http://www.baycitizen.org/mehserle-verdict/story/legal-story-behind-why-johannes-mehserle/

“His case exemplifies how arbitrary criminal law can be,” Simon said referring to how a small difference in the verdict can make a big difference in time served. “I am sympathetic to the feeling that many others have that Mehserle’s short sentence was incommensurate with his culpability,” Simon said. “Part of the function of the criminal law is to signal community outrage at a course of conduct, and that seems to have failed here.”


Jonathan Simon Refutes Pundit’s Analysis of Oakland Crime Wave

KALW News, The Informant, April 26, 2011 by Rina Palta
http://informant.kalwnews.org/2011/04/debating-what-to-do-about-oaklands-homicide-wave/

Where Johnson falls victim to his own “common sense” is in believing there is a way to deter those bullets today (or the hands firing them). But everything we know from empirical research and the experience of our own failed war on crime is that young men do not put enough stock in the future to be deterred by crackdowns and long prison terms (they already accept those consequences).


Jonathan Simon Rejects ‘Total Incapacitation’ of Prisoners

The Global Herald, February 24, 2011 by Jonathan Simon
http://theglobalherald.com/crime-the-emergence-of-an-exceptional-penal-rationale/11926/

What explains the commitment of many American states (and California is perhaps the leading example of a much more widely spread pattern) to this kind of degrading punishment, and why has it remained largely unchanged despite nearly two decades of declining crime rates, grave fiscal difficulties, and growing scandals involving overcrowding and incompetent medical care?


Jonathan Simon Commends Don Novey’s Political Legacy

The Sacramento Bee, November 29, 2010 by Jon Ortiz
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/11/29/3217884/don-novey-loses-election-gamble.html

“Novey was early in recognizing the potential of crime fear as a new anchor of politics,” said UC Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon.


Jonathan Simon Comments on California Prison Overcrowding Case

San Jose Mercury News, November 28, 2010 by Howard Mintz
http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_16724376?nclick_check=1

Legal experts predict the state may have a strong argument in the Supreme Court, which is decidedly more conservative on law-and-order issues than the three judges who issued the California order…. But Jonathan Simon … said the justices may still be reluctant to tamper with the overall factual findings of the three-judge panel, although they may decide the courts need to give the state “more leeway” to comply with the orders.


Jonathan Simon Says Mass Incarceration a Failure

The Boston Globe, November 8, 2010 by James Carroll
http://bit.ly/bIFtIp

Just as irrational assumptions of “risk assessment” prompted mortgage brokers to understate the risks of home ownership, they led prosecutors, in a parallel noted by Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon, to grossly overstate the risks to society of huge numbers of defendants. The housing bubble, Simon shows, devastated neighborhoods by littering them with abandoned properties. The prison bubble devastated neighborhoods by depriving them of fathers and husbands.


Jonathan Simon Examines Tax Impact of Prop. 19

The Sacramento Bee, October 22, 2010 by Peter Hecht
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/10/22/3123343/feds-could-dash-cities-hopes-of.html#ixzz136vCCJAw

UC Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon said the measures underscore the potentially diverse “patchwork” of regulation if Proposition 19 passes. “You might have some towns that set a very low tax and very few regulations, seeking to create marijuana commercial zones,” Simon said. But other cities are likely to seek higher taxes, he said, because of “their desire for revenue and opposition to becoming known as a local pot hub.”


Jonathan Simon Decries Prison-to-Poverty Cycle

Slate, October 8, 2010 by Sasha Abramsky
http://www.slate.com/id/2270328/?from=rss

University of California at Berkeley professor of law Jonathan Simon writes that these men and women in many ways become the human equivalent of underwater homes bought with subprime mortgages—they are “toxic persons” in the way those homes have been defined as “toxic assets,” condemned to failure.


Jonathan Simon Says Death Penalty Has Become a Political Symbol

Stateline.org, September 7, 2010 by Louis Jacobson
http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=510578

“In many states, especially California, the death penalty figures less as a real tool of criminal justice or crime control and more of a symbolic statement about whether someone identifies the fears of ordinary citizens about crime,” says Jonathan Simon, a law professor at the University of California (Berkeley).