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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 »

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

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | January 10, 2014

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 digital reading material, much of … 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 »

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 »

Whither the War on Crime? How to respond (and not respond) to January’s string of outrageous murders and attempted murders

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | January 31, 2011

In case anyone has been hiking in desert for the month of January, we are the midst of a wave of frightening murders and attempted murders, including the attempted assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Gifford in Tucson, and in the same incident the murder of a federal judge and three other victims (including a 9-year-old girl) … Continue reading »