Simon, Jonathan

Jonathan Simon is a professor of law at UC Berkeley and associate dean of the Berkeley’s Jurisprudence and Social Policy program. This article originally appeared on the Berkeley Blog.

True Lies: Good Rhetoric on Prison Spending Is not a Plan for Action

By Jonathan Simon

Most of what Governor Schwarzenegger has said during his six years in office about California’s bloated carceral state is true. Most of his proposals to move us beyond this obvious disaster for our polity amount to lies.

I have nothing against rhetoric, in fact I make my living producing and analyzing it (with apologies to the professionals in the rhetoric department). Indeed, I had great hopes that this action hero Governor might really use his clear rhetorical skills to tell Californians that we have too much fear embodied in our penal code and prison policies.

•    He called the parole system “broken.”
•    He described our prisons as involved in “warehousing people” (a phrase used by Marxist criminologists in my days in graduate school).
•    He renamed our prison agency the “Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation” (a bit repetitive, but the right direction).