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Jonathan Simon ’87 Wins National Award for Criminology Research

Jonathan Simon '87
Jonathan Simon '87

By Andrew Cohen

Berkeley Law Professor Jonathan Simon '87 has won this year's Michael J. Hindelang Award. The national honor, given by the American Society of Criminology (ASC), recognizes a book published within the past three years that makes the most outstanding contribution to research in criminology.

Simon received the award for his book "Governing through Crime," which has also won a Sociology of Law Distinguished Book Award from the American Sociological Association, and was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title.

A review in Political Science Quarterly said Simon’s book "stands out as the most important and most readable treatment to date on the overreach of crime and our emergence, in part, as a society gripped by the language of crime and the technologies of criminal justice." Boston Review called it "ambitious, carefully reasoned, and thought-provoking," while Law and History Review wrote that "for historians, this book will one day be a valuable primary source."

"Governing through Crime" outlines how social problems such as welfare dependency and educational inequality have been reconceptualized as crimes, with increased focus on assigning fault and imposing consequences. Simon traces this pattern to the collapse of the New Deal approach to governing during the 1960s, when eroding confidence in expert-guided policies prompted political leaders to seek new models of governance.

As a result, fundamental American institutions—schools, families, workplaces, and residential communities—became governed through crime, as evidenced by the rise in gated communities, mandatory drug testing by employers, and metal detectors at schools.

ASC is an international organization comprised of students, practitioners, and academics from the many fields of criminal justice and criminology. It encourages multidisciplinary exchanges among researchers, teachers, and practitioners to foster scholarship and serve as a forum for disseminating knowledge about criminology.