Areas of Expertise
- Criminal Justice
- Public Opinion
- American Bureaucracy
- Political Behavior
Professor Lerman is a political scientist 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. Professor Lerman is the author of two books on criminal justice policy, The Modern Prison Paradox (Cambridge University Press) and Arresting Citizenship (The University of Chicago Press). She also writes on American bureaucracy, privatization, and public/private partnerships. Her current book project, The Public Competency Crisis, explores the micro-politics of privatization, assessing the ways that citizens understand and form preferences toward public versus private provision of goods and services. Professor Lerman’s scholarship can be found in a variety of journals, including the American Political Science Review, Perspectives on Politics, Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, and Punishment and Society. She received her PhD in 2008 from the University of California, Berkeley.
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Lerman, Amy E. and Vesla M. Weaver. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control. The University of Chicago Press, 2014.
Lerman, Amy E. The Modern Prison Paradox: Politics, Punishment, and Social Community. Cambridge UP, 2013.
In The Modern Prison Paradox, Amy E. Lerman examines the shift from rehabilitation to punitivism that has taken place in the politics and practice of American corrections. She argues that this punitive turn has had profoundly negative consequences for both crime control and American community life. Professor Lerman's research shows that spending time in America's increasingly violent and castigatory prisons strengthens inmates' criminal networks and fosters attitudes that increase the likelihood of criminal activity following parole. Additionally, Professor Lerman assesses whether America's more punitive prisons similarly shape the social attitudes and behaviors of correctional staff. Her analysis reveals that working in more punitive prisons causes correctional officers to develop an “us against them” mentality while on the job, and that the stress and wariness officers acquire at work carries over into their personal lives, straining relationships with partners, children, and friends.