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.
A.B., UC Berkeley (1981)
J.D., UC Berkeley School of Law (1987)
Ph.D., UC Berkeley School of Law (1990)
“One of the ironies of the call to a more ‘law and order’ approach is that people often associate it with being more effective at trying to reduce crime,” Jonathan Simon said. “I think we have to live with the fact that the actual effects on crime are going to be marginal.”
Jonathan Simon, a criminal justice professor at UC Berkeley School of Law, said businesses probably do have relatively accurate estimates of how much their inventory is shrinking due to theft. And that it’s possible retail theft has increased partially because of online resale platforms, which serve as a conduit for organized theft for profit.
A hardware store that lost $700,000 to shoplifters illustrates the woes behind a multi-county Bay Area spike
Jonathan Simon, a professor of criminal justice at UC Berkeley’s law school, said incarcerating people over minor property crimes makes little sense. “Jail does real harm and makes it more likely the person will be arrested again,” Simon said.
‘Unthinkable’: S.F. shooting near Pier 39 leaves 6 hurt, 2 in custody amid national burst of violence
“Escalations of assaults and shootings can have ripple effects for years,” said UC Berkeley law Professor Jonathan Simon, noting that friends or family members often feel compelled to retaliate. “Disrupting that cycle is complex and challenging. Traditionally, the onus has been on law enforcement to intervene, though in recent years many cities have shifted resources from police to civilian interrupters, whose work is still “an imperfect art form.”
Law enforcement prosecutions are inherently difficult, UC Berkeley law Professor Jonathan Simon allowed. State law enables police to use deadly force when they reasonably believe they are threatened; juries bring a set of presumptions into the courtroom and historically they have been swayed by testimony of police officers. Considering all these hurdles, “it’s inevitably rare that officers are charged for using force in the course of their jobs,” Simon said, let alone convicted.
It’s also easier for companies and the public to blame theft for store closures and retail struggles than admit stores’ over-expansion, strategy mistakes and customers abandoning stores for online shopping, said Jonathan Simon, a criminal justice professor at UC Berkeley School of Law. “It’s much more convenient if we can blame it on people we already consider reprehensible,” he said.
The Barry Tarlow Chair in Criminal Justice will honor the renowned defense attorney’s legacy and create a new faculty position awarded to a tenured professor.
Professor Jonathan Simon says there’s no easy way for Jenkins to make a quick impact on crime, or even to significantly affect the jail population. “I think most of the rapid change is what we’ve already gotten: a big change in tone and lots of reminders of the things her predecessor was alleged to have done wrong,” he says.
In a time of concern about a rise in retail theft, some politicians are seizing on viral videos to paint left-leaning city leaders as soft on crime. “These crimes deserve to be taken seriously, but they are also being weaponized ahead of the midterm elections,” Professor Jonathan Simon says.
In Contrast to Boudin Recall, Three East Bay Progressive Supporters of Criminal Justice Reform Lead Races
Professor Jonathan Simon discusses how to interpret the results alongside the successful recall of San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin. “I think the constituency for people who really think that the criminal legal system needs a deep reform may in fact be deeper in the East Bay,” he says.
Professor Jonathan Simon says, despite recall efforts, San Francisco D.A. Chesa Boudin has done the things he said he would do
Is an international crime operation targeting the Bay Area’s wealthiest cities with ‘burglary tourism’?
Professor Jonathan Simon comments on the recent Bay area burglary tourism and says that narratives like that of the South American theft groups are “like catnip” for law enforcement
Professor Jonathan Simon says the passage of Stand Your Ground laws were a big cultural shift
Professor Jonathan Simon explains the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities that are vulnerable to violence
Exclusive: SFPD Chief Scott seeking full overhaul of deal that makes D.A. Boudin lead in cop use-of-force cases
Professor Jonathan Simon comments on recent overhaul of the agreement that made the District Attorney’s Office the lead investigator into potential officer brutality and says that he doesn’t see a record of failure or betrayal by the District Attorney’s Office that is extreme enough to justify “tearing up the whole document, rather than asking for specific changes”
Bay Area freeway shootings have nearly quadrupled in 4 years. In 2021, almost half occurred in one county
Professor Jonathan Simon suggests recent highway shootings are likely either road rage assaults or calculated attacks against a motorist who the perpetrator already knew – both of which could be aggravated by the growing number of people who are armed
Professor Jonathan Simon says that crime concerns in L.A. can slow progressive criminal justice reforms, but it won’t derail the reform movement
Professor Jonathan Simon says that due to businesses trying to maximize profits by reducing the number of people working there, the automated self check-outs enable theft
Professor Jonathan Simon says that we shouldn’t trust the conviction rate too much, highlighting that the conviction rate fails to capture how well the district attorney is protecting justice as a whole in the community
Scholarly Impact: Study Ranks Berkeley Law Faculty Sixth, With 15 Professors in Their Field’s Top 15
Fifteen professors, including Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, also made lists of the most-cited faculty in their fields.