Research Expertise and Interest

American government, public opinion, criminal justice, prisons and policing

Research Description

Professor Amy Lerman writes widely on issues of race, public opinion, and political behavior, especially as they relate to punishment and social inequality in America. She is particularly interested in the political attitudes and behavior of the economically marginalized, youth, and racial minorities. Professor Lerman is the author of two books on the American criminal justice system—The Modern Prison Paradox (2013) and Arresting Citizenship (2014). Her most recent book, Good Enough for Government Work (2019) examines how perceptions of government shape citizens’ attitudes toward privatization. Her scholarship can be found in a number of edited volumes and a variety of peer-reviewed journals, and has been featured in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN and NPR.

In addition to her academic work, Lerman has served as a speechwriter and communications consultant for national nonprofits and members of the United States Congress, a community organizer in Latin America and Southeast Asia, and an adjunct faculty member of the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison. She consults widely on issues related to prison reform, access to higher education, and law enforcement mental health.

In the News

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
July 7, 2022
Cara Murez

An array of problems, including overcrowding, led to a surge of COVID-19 cases in California prisons in 2020-2021, says a new report co-authored by UC Berkeley professor Amy Lerman.

March 2, 2020
Emily Badger
During Michael Bloomberg's years as mayor of New York, stop-and-frisk policing was commonly used to stem crime. Since then, a variety of studies indicate that the strategy wasn't as effective as previously thought, and that it inflicted lasting harm in the community. One study, co-authored by public policy and political science professor Amy Lerman, found that even minor encounters with police can reduce the likelihood of voting, and that aggressive stop-and-frisk tactics can discourage residents' use of services like 3-1-1 to report issues that have nothing to do with crime. "It teaches something really important -- and something really negative -- about what agents of the state and bureaucracies are supposed to be doing in your community, what role they play, what their character is," she says.
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