Amy E. Lerman

Associate Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

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About Amy

Lerman is a political scientist at the Goldman School of Public Policy who writes widely on issues related to political engagement, public opinion, and public policy. Her recent work examines the ways that growing economic inequality, persistent racial bias, and the rise of the carceral state influence citizens’ political beliefs, racial identities, and rates of political participation. She is particularly interested in the political attitudes and behavior of the low-income, youth, and racial minorities. In addition to writing and teaching, Professor Lerman is an adjunct faculty member of the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.


In the News

Amy E. Lerman quoted , "New Study Looks at Suicide Rate of California Prison Guards" KCRA Sacramento, January 10, 2018.
Amy E. Lerman quoted by Don Thompson, "New Study Looks at California Prison Guards' Suicide Rate" SCNow, January 9, 2018.
Amy E. Lerman's research on "Why are Suicide Rates so High among Corrections Officers?," New York Post, January 9, 2018.
Amy E. Lerman quoted by Don Thompson, "California: Muchos Suicidios Entre Empleados Penitenciarios" Houston Chronicle, January 9, 2018.
"Protest is Democracy at Work," Amy E. Lerman (with Vesla Weaver), Slate, December 23, 2014.
Amy E. Lerman's research on alternatives to the incarceration industry discussed by Sarah Stillman, "Get Out of Jail, Inc.," The New Yorker, June 23, 2014.
Amy E. Lerman's research on intrusive policing effect on civic engagement (with Vesla M. Weaver) discussed by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, "Who is Most Likely to Dial 311?," Next City, April 8, 2014.
Amy E. Lerman's research on the consequences of disenfranchisement on urban communities (with Vesla M. Weaver) discussed by Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow, "The Political Cost of a Heavy Police Presence?," Next City, February 19, 2014.
"What Medicare Can Teach Us about the Future of Obamacare," Amy E. Lerman, Washington Post, November 26, 2013.
Amy E. Lerman's research on how incarceration affects political attitudes (with Vesla M. Weaver) discussed by John Sides, "How Prisons Make Bad Citizens," Washington Post, August 25, 2010.


"Political Ideology, Skin Tone, and the Psychology of Candidate Evaluations" (with Katherine T. McCabe and Meredith Sadin). Public Opinion Quarterly 79, no. 1 (2015): 53-90.

Examines the role of political ideology in shaping black voters’ evaluations of political candidates’ race and skin tone. Challenges simplistic notions of black preference for descriptive representation.

Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control (with Vesla M. Weaver) (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Presents a host of evidence that the growth and culture of the American criminal justice system has important consequences for democratic life.
"Staying out of Sight? Concentrated Policing and Local Political Action" (with Vesla M. Weaver). The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 651, no. 1 (2014): 202-219.
Shows that the concentration and character of police stops in New York City is highly predictive of patterns of local political engagement.
The Modern Prison Paradox: Politics, Punishment, and American Community (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Argues that the modern move toward more punitive prison culture has had deleterious consequences for the social communities of both inmates and correctional officers.
"The State of the Job: An Embedded Work Role Perspective on Prison Officer Attitudes" (with Joshua Page). Punishment and Society 14, no. 5 (2012): 503-529.
Uses original surveys from California and Minnesota to analyze whether differences in the orientations of state correctional systems are reflected in the attitudes of workers who are tasked with the day-to-day oversight of state prisons.
"Political Consequences of the Carceral State" (with Vesla M. Weaver). American Political Science Review 104, no. 4 (2010): 817-833.
Examines the effects of contact with police, courts, prisons and jails on Americans’ political attitudes and behavior.