Amy Lerman

Michelle Schwartz Endowed Chair, Professor of Public Policy and Political Science, Director of the Possibility Lab
(510) 642-1137
205A GSPP Main | 2607 Hearst Ave | Berkeley CA 94707
Office Hours
By Appointment
Personal Statement

Amy Lerman writes widely on issues related to public policy, public opinion, and political behavior, especially as they relate to punishment and social inequality in America. She is the author of two books on the American criminal justice system—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. Professor Lerman’s scholarship can also 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. 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.

Professor Lerman also directs the Possibility Lab at UC Berkeley, where she focuses on mobilizing community-engaged, data-driven innovation for the public good. The Possibility Lab brings together public policy experts who are committed to evidence-based policymaking and who use quantitative, participatory, and experimental methods to understand the potential of new ideas to improve people’s lives. Through on-going partnerships with changemakers both inside and outside government, they tackle big questions that cut across traditional research/practitioner boundaries. All projects are co-designed with community and government partners in order to ensure that innovations are feasible in the short term, scalable in the future, and make meaningful progress towards systemic change.

Research Interests
Public Opinion
Social Policy
Criminal Justice
Policy Feedback
B.A., Social Policy and Political Science, Gallatin School, New York University
M.A. Political Science, University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., Political Science , University of California, Berkeley
  • The Modern Prison Paradox (Cambridge University Press) 
  • Arresting Citizenship (The University of Chicago Press)

  • Good Enough for Government Work (The University of Chicago Press)