« All Events

  • This event has passed.

Excessive Punishment: How the Justice System Creates Mass Incarceration

Monday, April 1, 2024 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm

The United States represents less than 5 percent of the world’s population, but holds over 20 percent of its prisoners. With just under 1.8 million people behind bars, the American criminal justice system has increased our incarcerated population by 500% since 1970. Excessive Punishment: How the Justice System Creates Mass Incarceration, edited by Lauren-Brooke Eisen of the Brennan Center for Justice, examines the American justice system’s dependance on retribution. Through a collection of essays by wide range of experts, Excessive Punishment explores the myriad factors contributing to mass incarceration—poverty, racism, the legacy of slavery—and offers potential reforms.

Join the Goldman School of Public Policy, the Berkeley Criminal Law & Justice Center, and the Brennan Center for Justice during Second Chance Month for a thought-provoking discussion on the far-reaching effects of the American prison system and how we can move towards restoration rather than punishment.

If you require an accommodation for effective communication (ASL interpreting/alternative media formats, etc.) or information about campus mobility access features in order to fully participate in this event, please contact Bora Reed at borareed@berkeley.edu or 510-680-3013 with as much advance notice as possible and at least 7-10 days in advance of the event.


Chesa Boudin is the founding executive director of Berkeley’s Criminal Law & Justice Center. He served as San Francisco’s elected district attorney from 2020 until his recall in 2022. During that time, Boudin implemented bold reforms to ensure that the criminal legal system delivered safety and justice for all San Franciscans. His achievements include a significant expansion of the office’s victim services’ division; eliminating prosecutors’ use of money bail; prosecuting police for excessive force; suing the manufacturers of ghost guns; expanding diversion to address root causes of crime; and a historic reduction in incarceration. During his time in office both violent and non-violent crime fell by double digits. Prior to his election Boudin clerked for two federal judges and worked for years as a deputy public defender in San Francisco. He is a graduate of Yale college and Yale law school and attended Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship. His biological parents spent a combined 62 years in prison starting when he was a baby.

Boudin’s work has appeared or been profiled in The Yale Law Journal, The Journal of Criminal Law & Criminology, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The LA Times, The Chicago Tribune, and many more.

Asia Johnson is a writer, storyteller, and filmmaker who has worked with several organizations in the criminal justice reform space, including The Bail Project, cut50, Shakespeare in Prison, Prison Creative Arts Program, Hamtramck Free School, and the Michigan Prison Doula Initiative. Asia is a 2019 Right of Return Fellow, 2019 Room Project Fellow, 2021 Brennan Center for Justice Fellow, 2022 Art for Justice grantee, and a 2022 Highland Leader. Her Chapbook, An Exorcism, was released in 2018 and her directorial debut, Out of Place, was released in 2022.

Asia studied at University of Michigan-Dearborn and is the Manager of Storytelling and Media Productions at Zealous. When Asia isn’t helping to uplift the stories of those impacted by the criminal legal system and making her dream of a world without cages come true, she is writing poetry.

Lauren-Brooke Eisen is the Senior Director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program at NYU School of Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute that seeks to improve systems of democracy and justice. Eisen focuses on improving the criminal justice process through legal reforms, specifically how the criminal justice system is funded.

Previously Eisen was a Senior Program Associate at the Vera Institute of Justice in the Center on Sentencing and Corrections where she worked on policies that aimed to improve public safety while reducing prison populations. Eisen also served as an assistant district attorney in New York City where she served in the Appeals Bureau, the Criminal Court Bureau, and the Sex Crimes Special Victims Bureau where she prosecuted a wide range of misdemeanor and felony cases. Before entering law school, Eisen worked as a beat reporter for a daily newspaper in Laredo, Texas where she covered criminal justice issues. Eisen has taught an undergraduate seminar on mass incarceration at Yale, served as an adjunct instructor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, and supervises NYU Law students who participate in the Brennan Center Public Policy Advocacy Clinic.

Jonathan Simon joined the Berkeley Law faculty in 2003 as part of the J.D., JSP, and Legal Studies programs. He teaches in the areas of criminal law, criminal procedure, criminology, legal studies and the sociology of law.  

Simon’s scholarship concerns the role of crime and criminal justice in governing contemporary societies, risk and the law, and the history of the interdisciplinary study of law. His published works include over seventy articles and book chapters, and three single authored monographs, including: Poor Discipline: Parole and the Social Control of the Underclass (University of Chicago 1993, winner of the American Sociological Association’s sociology of law book prize, 1994), Governing through Crime: How the War on Crime Transformed American Democracy and Created a Culture of Fear (Oxford University Press 2007, winner of the American Society of Criminology, Hindelang Award 2010) and Mass Incarceration on Trial: A Remarkable Court Decision and the Future of Prisons in America (New Press 2014). Simon has served as the co-editor-in-chief of the journal, Punishment and Society, and the co-editor of the Sage Handbook of Punishment & Society (along with Richard Sparks). He is a member of the Law & Society Association and the American Society of Criminology. Simon’s scholarship has been recognized internationally with appointment as a Leverhulme Visiting Professorship at the University of Edinburgh (2010-11), a Fellow of the Israeli Institute for Advanced Studies (2016), and a Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (2018). In 2016 Simon was recognized for his scholarship on the human rights of prisoners with the Docteur honoris causa de la Faculté et de l’Institut, Faculté de Droit et Criminologie, Université Catholique de Louvain.

Steven Raphael is a Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley and holds the James D. Marver Chair at the Goldman School of Public Policy. His research focuses on the economics of low-wage labor markets, housing, and the economics of crime and corrections. His most recent research focuses on the social consequences of the large increases in U.S. incarceration rates and racial disparities in criminal justice outcomes. Raphael also works on immigration policy, research questions pertaining to various aspects of racial inequality, the economics of labor unions, social insurance policies, homelessness, and low-income housing. Raphael is the author (with Michael Stoll) of Why Are so Many Americans in Prison? (published by the Russell Sage Foundation Press) and The New Scarlet Letter? Negotiating the U.S. Labor Market with a Criminal Record (published by the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research). Raphael is a research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research, the California Policy Lab, the University of Michigan National Poverty Center, the University of Chicago Crime Lab, IZA, Bonn Germany, and the Public Policy Institute of California. Raphael holds a Ph.D. in economics from UC Berkeley.


Criminal Law & Justice Center


Banatao Auditorium
Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720 United States
+ Google Map

Events are wheelchair accessible. For disability-related accommodations, contact the organizer of the event. Advance notice is kindly requested.

If you have any photos or video from your event that you’d like to share with Berkeley Law for possible use in our digital and print marketing, please email communications@law.berkeley.edu.

Interested in subscribing to a weekly email digest of Berkeley Law events? Learn more here.