In the News

Jonathan Simon in the news:

It’s time to end Antonin Scalia’s prison state: How the next SCOTUS justice could help end mass incarceration

Jonathan Simon interviewed by Salon, Feb. 21, 2016

“Scalia was perhaps the strongest opponent of proportionality analysis of any kind under the Amendment,” emails Jonathan Simon. … “A more robust proportionality rule would go a long way to eliminating some outsized determinate sentences that drive a big part of mass incarceration.”

Drug courts reexamine their toolkits in post-Prop. 47 era

Jonathan Simon quoted in Daily Journal (registration required), Oct. 19, 2015

UC Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon would like to see drug courts’ best features integrated into the justice system as a whole, rather than confined to a specialized sub-system. “If we’re now in an era when there’s possibilities for rescaling our ambitions for what the criminal process ought to handle, then I think that drug courts might be part of the problem,” Simon said.

Glare of video is shifting public’s view of police

Jonathan Simon quoted in The New York Times, July 30, 2015

“The benefit of being able to hold police accountable in many situations where they are now largely immune is probably worth the cost alone,” said Jonathan Simon. “But even more so when you consider how often the same cameras will provide damning evidence against criminal suspects as well.”

Philadelphia commissioner steps into fray between police and public

Jonathan Simon quoted in The New York Times, March 20, 2015

“As a group, police chiefs have always been more progressive than the rank-and-file, and it’s not all that clear that chiefs are going to be successful in carrying the rank-and-file with them,” Professor Simon said.

Are overcrowded prisons unconstitutional?

Jonathan Simon interviewed by Slate, March 18, 2015

“Does the Eighth Amendment just prevent torture, or does it protect something more? If it just protects us against torture then obviously it’s a very limited right, and we have to wait until things get really awful in prisons before courts are going to do anything. But if torture is just being protected against because it’s one way to destroy and degrade ‘human dignity,’ then I think almost everything we do in prison has to be rethought.”

OK, so who gets to go free?

Jonathan Simon interviewed by Slate, March 4, 2015

Many crimes are legally considered violent “even if no force is used, let alone injury suffered,” said Jonathan Simon. “Violence is a much more capacious legal category than most people assume.”

BART may drop protest charges

Jonathan Simon quoted in San Francisco Gate, January 24, 2015

“A society that places a value on public demonstrations, of which civil disobedience will be a part, should be cautious about going down that road” of requiring protesters to pay financial costs, Simon said. “Every demonstration will have very disruptive effects on business,” generally covered by insurance.

Can Proposition 47 solve California’s problem with mass incarceration?

Jonathan Simon quoted in Pacific Standard, October 29, 2014

While mass incarceration is a problem everywhere in the United States … California has served as a crucible for this issue, the “Mississippi of mass incarceration,” in the words of University of California-Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon.

White House threat sparks call for wider immigration debate

Jonathan Simon quoted in TribLIVE, August 30, 2014

“Our consumption of drugs is what’s funding organized crime in their countries, and the resulting violence caused by those gangs is why they’re fleeing,” Simon said.

American exceptionism

Jonathan Simon interviewed on This is Hell, August 2, 2014

“2014 is to mass incarceration what 1964 was to segregation – the year that it became totally discredited, but also ended up becoming the norm for American society.”

Mass incarceration on trial

Jonathan Simon quoted in Inside Higher Ed, July 9, 2014

“Most people feel that prisons are a necessary evil. But when people learn about the inhumane conditions that persisted in California for more than a decade, they are genuinely disturbed and recognize that inhumane conditions undermine the moral legitimacy and public safety purpose of prisons.”

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.