Skip to main content

The immigrant-crime connection

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | July 23, 2015

Killing at the hands of an illegal alien spurs furious debate about closing borders and deporting the undocumented. It is the year before a presidential election and candidates denounce undocumented immigrants as the conveyors of Mexican violence into our country. When Robert J. Sampson, Harvard sociologist and criminologist, wrote about this news, he was not … Continue reading »

If black lives matter, end the War on Crime

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | December 8, 2014

From the perspective of tens of thousands of protesters around the nation this week, the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. and Eric Garner in Staten Island reflected an unfathomable decision by white police officers to kill unarmed black men engaged in trivial criminal (if any) behavior. To thousands of police officers (and their families), … Continue reading »

Mass incarceration, mass deportation: Twin legacies of governing through crime

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | December 23, 2013

One afflicts mostly American citizens, disproportionately those of African American and Latino backgrounds from areas of concentrated poverty, but also many white and middle class citizens who fall into the hands of police and prosecutors.  The other afflicts exclusively non-citizens living in the U.S. without federal authorization or in violation of the terms of their … Continue reading »

‘Justice’ in the murder years: More tales from the Brooklyn crypt

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | December 5, 2013

The New York Times continues its on going series of investigatory features on wrongful convictions or likely wrongful convictions produced by Brooklyn’s law enforcement and court system in the 1980s and early 1990s with a gripping and sad story by Frances Robles on two Brooklyn teenagers (now 30 and 31) convicted of killing a corrections … Continue reading »

Lessons from the ‘sordid decades’: Miscarriages of justice in NY’s ‘War on Crime’ in the ’80s and ’90s

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | May 14, 2013

Any reader of the paper of record will be impressed with the series of impressive features dealing with various aspects of county level justice in the five boroughs that make up New York City.  While not all of them have cast their gaze backwards (for instance the superb recent series on delay in the Bronx County courts). … Continue reading »

Gated nightmares

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | February 21, 2013

It has all the feel of a Twilight Zone episode, only in a setting that is unmistakably contemporary.  The nightmare is framed by this setting, a house in a gated community.  It could be a very posh house, like the one where Oscar Pistorious lived and admits he shot to death his girlfriend, the model … Continue reading »

The NY Times’ flawed series on New Jersey’s halfway houses

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | June 26, 2012

I’ve finished reading New York Times reporter Sam Dolnick’s important investigative report on New Jersey’s burgeoning system of half way houses, Unlocked — and I’m still more impressed with the power of traditional media ways of representing crime and criminal justice than I am with the power of its investigating or reporting. On the later … Continue reading »

Egypt’s election and the rise of crime

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | May 24, 2012

As Egyptians went to the polls Wednesday in an historic first ever free presidential election, David Kirkpatrick reports in the New York Times that prominently on their minds is the rise of crime since the fall of the dictatorship (read the story here). On the eve of the vote to choose Egypt’s first president since … Continue reading »

Occupy’s prison protest: It’s not yesterday any more

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | February 22, 2012

Getting people around my age, late boomers who grew up in the “fear years” of the 1970s, to rethink their assumptions about prisons, crime and criminal justice is hard; and it keeps us locked into mass incarceration. Consider SF Chron Columnist Chip Johnson’s broadside at the Occupy Movement in the Bay Area’s demonstration at San … Continue reading »

Attica, forty years on

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | September 12, 2011

On the editorial pages of the NYTimes, historian Heather Thompson reminds us all of how profoundly the Attica prison uprising and its violent suppression, 40 years ago, shaped our penal imagination and prepared the grounds for what we now call “mass incarceration.”(read it here) The prisoners who took nine correctional officers hostage and gained control … Continue reading »

Thawing of prison isolation policy a positive sign

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | August 30, 2011

A recent hearing in Sacramento of the Assembly Public Safety Committee was another remarkable sign that California’s once frozen penal policies are beginning to thaw and change. Isolation of “high risk” prisoners, in a lock-down environment designed to promote security to the exclusion of all other penal objectives has been a pillar of California’s prison … Continue reading »

City crime, country crime

Claude Fischer, professor of sociology | June 15, 2011

A recent report announced that the huge financial company UBS will be moving back from a suburb of New York into Manhattan, “because it has come to realize it is more difficult to recruit talented people in their 20s to work in the suburbs.” What a (literal) turnaround! For about a generation, roughly from  the 1970s … Continue reading »