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The real problem with mass incarceration? Inhumanity

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | August 7, 2014

We may disagree on who belongs and who does not belong in prison, or on how long prison sentences should be, or what goals those sentences should be meted out to accomplish. But one thing we should not, must not disagree on, is that those prisons should be humane. What is humane?  Humane means treating a … Continue reading »

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

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | March 21, 2014

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 them lifers, to sit with … Continue reading »

Hunger

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | July 8, 2013

Today, July 8, 2013, prisoners in California’s supermax “SHU” units (for Secured Housing Units), are commencing a hunger strike and work stoppage, their second in two years (read the solidarity statement here). This is tragic. Hunger strikes are an extraordinary act of self deprivation by people who have almost nothing.  They can result in the … 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 »

The housing index and the prison bubble

Jonathan Simon, professor of law | June 1, 2011

Just think of prisons as a kind of housing, the new public housing, and it may seem less crazy to wonder if the decline of the portion of Americans who are homeowners may coincide with a decline in the portion of Americans who make their home in a prison. As David Streitfeld reports in the New … Continue reading »