Ann Lucas Lecture Series


The Ann Lucas Lecture Series in Law and Justice Proudly Presents . . .

Jonathan SimonNovember 13, 2014, 4:00pm-6:00pm Uoshihiro Uchida Hall 124 to discuss his latest book, Mass Incarceration on Trial: Courts and the Future of American Prisons. This book examines a series of landmark decisions about prison conditions, culminating in the 2011 Supreme Court case Brown v. Plata, which declared conditions in California prisons unconstitutional and imposed a population cap on the state prison system. Simon, the Adrian A. Kragen Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, shows that these decisions have opened an unexpected escape route from the trap of "tough on crime" politics that have turned California into the country's largest jailor.

For nearly forty years, the United States has been gripped by policies that have placed more than 2.5 million Americans in jails and prisons designed to hold a fraction of that number of inmates. Our prisons are not only vast and overcrowded, they are degrading—relying on racist gangs, lockdowns, and Supermax-style segregation units to maintain a tenuous order. In short, mass incarceration has proven to be a fiscal and penological disaster. A landmark 2011 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Plata, has opened an unexpected escape route from this trap of “tough on crime” politics and points toward values that could restore legitimate order to American prisons and ultimately lead to the dismantling of “mass incarceration.” Berkeley law professor Jonathan Simon—an internationally renowned critic of mass incarceration and the war on crime—argues that, much like the epic school segregation cases of the last century, this new case represents a major breakthrough in jurisprudence. Exposing the priority of politics over rational penal policy—and debunking the premise that these policies are necessary for public safety—this perceptive and groundbreaking book urges us to seize the opportunity to replace mass incarceration with a system anchored in the preservation of human dignity.


About the Ann Lucas Lecture Series in Law and Justice

The Ann Lucas Lecture Series in Law and Justice was established in 2009 by the Justice Studies Department at San José State University to honor the memory of Dr. Ann Lucas (1962-2009). Before joining the Department in 2000, Ann Lucas earned her J.D. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley. Her internationally recognized research focused on issues of gender inequality, domestic violence, prostitution, and drugs.

annA distinguished scholar, experienced teacher, inspiring mentor, and dedicated friend, Ann Lucas gave an invaluable contribution to the growth of the Justice Studies Department as a vibrant and diverse academic community, and served as department’s chair during the academic year 2008/2009. Ann passed away on October 22, 2009 after a brief battle with cancer. 

The Ann Lucas Lecture Series consists of four annual symposia (two in the Fall and two in the Spring of each academic year) featuring internationally renowned scholars whose recent books offer outstanding contributions to the advancement of critical perspectives in the fields of law, social theory, and the humanities. In keeping with Ann’s dedication to engaged scholarship and open intellectual debate, the symposia are organized as dialogues between authors and their critics. All the symposia are held at San José State University and are open to students, faculty, and the broader community.