Amy E. Lerman

Research Expertise and Interest

American government, public opinion, civic engagement, criminal justice, public impact research/scholarship, community-engaged research/scholarship, research practice partnership

Research Description

Amy E. Lerman is the Michelle Schwartz Chair and Professor of Public Policy and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley, and Director of the Possibility Lab at the University of California. In addition, Professor Lerman currently serves as Senior Strategist for Data-Driven Innovation at the California Government Operations Agency. Her research is focused on issues of equity, public opinion, and political behavior, especially as they relate to public safety and social inequality in America. Professor Lerman’s scholarship can be found in a wide variety of academic journals and has been featured in numerous media outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, and NPR. She consults widely on issues related to civic engagement and trust in government, prison reform, access to higher education, and law enforcement mental health.

Professor Lerman is the author of several award-winning books, including work on the American criminal justice system in The Modern Prison Paradox and Arresting Citizenship. Her most recent book, Good Enough for Government Work examines how perceptions of government shape citizens’ attitudes toward privatization and public programs.

In addition to her research, Lerman previously 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. In 2023, Lerman was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

In the News

Six New Fellows of American Academy of Arts & Sciences

The new UC Berkeley fellows are medical anthropologist Charles Briggs, philosopher John Campbell, neuroscientist Marla Feller, playwright Philip Kan Gotanda, physicist Dung-Hai Lee and political scientist Amy Lerman.

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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