All posts in tag: criminal justice

Jonathan Simon Life in prison with the remote possibility of death: the death penalty and California’s broken punishment paradigm

This week’s 39-page opinion by U.S. District Court Judge Cormac Carney — finding California’s death penalty unconstitutional — is already setting off a wave of debate in the media. We will see yet whether it catches any political fire in this dry, but so-far politically placid, season in California.

There is much to recommend in the … More >

Jonathan Simon Botched execution

To “botch” something is to carry out a task “badly or carelessly.”  Oklahoma’s botched execution Tuesday, April 29, 2014 demonstrated that word in its absolute in-glory.  (Read the New York Times account here).

Badly? Executions always cause at least psychological pain.  Even if everything goes perfectly, the physical pains involved in … More >

Jonathan Simon Dying inside: Lifers, the dying and California’s correctional paradigm

Before the hospice program started by prison chaplain Lorie Adolff, dying prisoners in California’s state prison in San Luis Obsipo (California Men’s Colony) just expired alone in their cells, with prison nurses looking in periodically until their vital signs ceased.  Adolff’s project, Supportive Care Services, trains other prisoners, most of … More >

Jonathan Simon Abandoning a failed penal experiment: New York’s historic advantage

The State of New York has made it share of bad penal policy choices. Remember the “Rockefeller Drug Laws” — mandatory life sentences for persons arrested with large quantities of dangerous drugs, which helped set the nation on the path toward indiscriminate use of incarceration?

But the Empire State has also … More >

Jonathan Simon From humanity to health: Why can’t California get prison healthcare right?

To considerable embarrassment, no doubt, in the Brown-Beard administration, admissions to California’s newest prison near Stockton California were halted Feb. 5 by the court-appointed healthcare receiver, law professor Clark Kelso.

The prison, the first new facility in a decade, is the lynch-pin of the administration’s frequent claim to have gotten on … More >

Jonathan Simon From the War on Crime to ‘World War Z’: What the zombie apocalypse can tell us about the current state of our culture of fear

Zombies are everywhere.  Ok not (yet) on the streets (so far as I know); but in our cultural imaginary they are everywhere.  You can find them (in small groups and hordes) in high budget nail biting thriller movies like Brad Pitt’s World War Z (2013), on television, and all over print and … More >

Jonathan Simon Yes, Virginia, there is a death penalty: Reflections on the Christmas moratorium

On the 19th of December, the paper of record, the New York Times, ran a story discussing the lower number of executions (39) in 2013 than in a previous years; a trend that began sometime ago (read it here). The causes of this trend are complex and fascinating and worthy of … More >

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

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) … More >

Jonathan Simon To the Fruitvale Station

Thanks to the persistence of my wife who has insisted for some time that as residents of the East Bay we must see it in the theater along with fellow East Bayers, our whole family saw this remarkable film a couple of weeks ago. The film moved me to tears … More >

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