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Jon Gould - UC Irvine. Irvine, CA, US

Jon Gould

Dean | UC Irvine


Jon Gould is a distinguished scholar in justice policy, social change and government reform.



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Jon Gould starts as Dean at the UCI School of Social Ecology Meet the Dean - with Dean Jon Gould


UCI Podcast: What is social ecology?



Jon Gould is a distinguished scholar in justice policy, social change and government reform who has held key positions in the U.S. Department of Justice and the National Science Foundation. He assumed the deanship on Jan. 1, 2022.

Gould leads the nation’s first school of social ecology, established in 1970 in response to high demand for more socially relevant research. For more than 50 years, the school has been an internationally recognized pioneer in developing interdisciplinary approaches to social problems. Its highly ranked faculty in criminology, law and society; urban planning and public policy; and psychological science engage in research and education to foster informed social action and make the world a better place.

Gould’s expertise covers justice policy, social change and government reform. He was the principal investigator for the Preventing Wrongful Convictions Project, a multiyear research initiative funded by the National Institute of Justice. He is the author of five books and more than 100 articles and reports on such diverse subjects as erroneous convictions, indigent defense, prosecutorial innovation, police behavior, hate speech, sexual harassment and international human rights.

Gould has filled a range of government leadership roles, including senior policy adviser in the U.S. Department of Justice and director of the Law & Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation. In 2015, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts appointed him as reporter for a committee of the federal courts evaluating the operation of the Criminal Justice Act. Gould is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, a former U.S. Supreme Court Fellow and a former trustee of the Law & Society Association. He received the Administration of Justice Award from the U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Alumni Association in 2017.

Areas of Expertise (9)

International Human Rights

Hate Speech

Indigent Defense

Government Reform

Justice Policy

Social Change

Erroneous Convictions

Prosecutorial Innovation

Sexual Harassment

Accomplishments (5)

Paul Tappan Award (professional)

Western Society of Criminology

Administration of Justice Award (professional)

U.S. Supreme Court Fellows Program

Social Activist Award (professional)

Justice Studies Association

Herbert Jacob Best Book Award (professional)

Law & Society Association

Outstanding Academic Title (professional)

American Library Association

Education (4)

University of Chicago: Ph.D., Political Science 1999

Harvard Law School: J.D. 1989

cum laude

Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government: M.P.P. 1989

University of Michigan: A.B., Public Policy 1985

with highest distinction and highest honors

Affiliations (3)

  • Arnold Foundation Eyewitness Identification Advisory Group
  • Law & Society Review : Associate Editor
  • Wrongful Conviction Law Review : Editorial Board

Media Appearances (11)

As Nikki Haley tours California, even some of her most ardent supporters don’t see a path

Los Angeles Times  online


Jon Gould, dean of the School of Social Ecology at UC Irvine, said in many ways Orange County Republicans are Haley’s target audience. In his recent polling on the county’s political seesawing, Gould found an emerging group of the O.C. electorate he called “modestly partisan Republicans” — a demographic of mostly non-white and wealthy people who are attached to the Republican Party, despite feeling left out in the national conversation. They don’t care about culture war issues, the poll found, and may support taxpayer-funded measures for progressive issues.

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Asian and Latino voters could decide competitive Congressional races in Orange County

KNX News Radio  radio


KNX News Chief Correspondent Charles Feldman talks to Jon Gould, dean of the UCI School of Social Ecology. He led a new poll called “Red County, Blue County, Orange County.” … “Orange County is one of only three of the top 25 counties in America that are truly ‘purple’ … If you look at the county basically politically, we are about a third Democrat, a third Independent, and a little bit less than a third Republican – but when you split those Independents out and look at who they truly vote for over time, we’re 46% Democratic, 36% Republican, 12% truly Independent. This is a place that is really very much ‘up for grabs,’” says Gould.

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Meet Orange County’s 125 most influential people for 2023

The Orange County Register  online


Gould was named head of UC Irvine’s school of sociology about a year ago. Since then, he’s overseen the first big public opinion survey of the county in years, and he’s working to turn UCI into a hub for getting stuff done.

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The Impact of False or Misleading Forensic Evidence on Wrongful Convictions

National Institute of Justice  online


Dr. Jon Gould of the University of California, Irvine has claimed that faulty forensic science is partly to blame for some of these convictions. As one of the architects of research that assesses the impact of forensic science on wrongful convictions, he has cited flawed eyewitness identification, confessions, testimony, police and prosecutorial conduct, defense lawyering, and forensic science as factors related to wrongful convictions. He stressed these are “factors” rather than “causes” because in prior analyses researchers have not been able to draw conclusions about causation because the studies did not use control groups.

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Trump Indicted in Georgia. Ex-President Has 10 Days to Surrender for Arraignment

The New York Times  online


Jon Gould, a lawyer and criminologist who is the dean of the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, said Georgia’s rule is fairly unusual. And it opens up the jurors, he said, to the possibility they could be harassed for their decisions, especially in cases involving gangs and organized crime.

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UC Irvine poll: Homelessness, affordable housing top concerns in OC

The Orange County Register  online


Residents say Orange County’s biggest challenge is … homelessness and a severe shortage of affordable housing. … Those are some of the key findings from a new poll on life in Orange County led by researchers at UC Irvine’s School of Social Ecology. … “Our job is to generate unimpeachable research and then use our place in the community to help convene people to talk about, and act upon, that data,” said Jon Gould, dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology. Gould pushed to create the survey and will lead the effort for follow-up action.

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Lawyer who represents the ‘worst of the worst’ leads defense in synagogue massacre trial

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle  online


Jon B. Gould, the dean of the School of Social Ecology at the University of California, Irvine, has researched attorneys who specialize in death penalty cases. In 2019, along with Maya Pagni Barak, he published “Capital Defense: Inside the Lives of America’s Death Penalty Lawyers,” a book based on extensive interviews, providing insight into the reasons someone would willingly represent a person who has committed an egregious crime. “They are an unusual kind of lawyer,” Gould said. “They’re actually an unusual kind of person because for many of these cases, they are representing what is sometimes said to be ‘the worst of the worst.’”

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Dean Jon B. Gould on research being done in the School of Social Ecology, what he’s learning from students and the importance of prioritizing mental well-being

KUCI  radio


“Dean Jon B. Gould is joining us from the School of Social Ecology at UCI… he’s a distinguished scholar in justice policy, social change and government reform… he took over deanship on January 1, 2022.” “Well, I think the first thing is to explain what social ecology is… It’s the school that no one knows exactly what it is, at first… and it really is a unique school because it’s one that focuses on solving problems in addition to studying them – and these are problems that vex society… and we do it in an interdisciplinary way and we do it in a way that connects with the community, with policy makers and practitioners,” says Gould.

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Why recalling progressive prosecutors is the wrong idea

The Orange County Register  online


Guess which California counties had some of the highest homicide rates last year? Kern, Tulare and Kings Counties – all in the Central Valley – were among the prime culprits. So, naturally, we would expect a movement to recall their District Attorneys for being soft on crime, right? Wrong.

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Is crime seasonal? Experts say yes, incidents spike in summer months

Bakersfield Now  online


Jon Gould, dean of UC Irvine's School of Social Ecology, says there are several reasons why crimes go up in these months. Longer days mean more opportunities to be outside as people have more time on their hands.

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New dean is excited to tell the School of Social Ecology story

UCI News  online


What appealed to Jon Gould about becoming the fifth dean of UCI’s School of Social Ecology since its founding in 1970? Helping explain what exactly social ecology is.

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Research Grants (3)

Principal investigator of 18-month project studying prosecutorial discretion in three district attorneys’ offices

Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center $295,000


Co-director of project to administer the National Science Foundation’s former grant program

Law and Science Dissertation Grant Program $1,400,000


Principal investigator of three-year project applying social science methods to the study of wrongful convictions

National Institute of Justice $660,000


Articles (5)

Qualifying Prosecutorial Immunity Through Brady Claims

Iowa Law Review

2021 This Article considers the soundness of the doctrine of absolute immunity as it relates to Brady violations. While absolute immunity serves to protect prosecutors from civil liability for good-faith efforts to act appropriately in their official capacity, current immunity doctrine also creates a potentially large class of injury victims—those who are subjected to wrongful imprisonment due to Brady violations—with no access to justice.

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Theorizing Failed Prosecutions

Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology

2021 Over the last twenty years, the scholarly field of erroneous convictions has skyrocketed, with multiple articles and books exploring the failures that convict the innocent. However, there has been comparatively little attention to the other side of the coin, failed prosecutions, when the criminal justice system falls short in convicting the likely perpetrator.

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When the Courts Are Indifferent and Legislators Apathetic: Partnering with Prosecutors to Protect Public Defense

Criminal Law Bulletin

2021 The last decade offered advocates fleeting hope that the courts would step in to reform public defense. However, recent decisions by state courts – and the intransigence of the federal judiciary – have proven those prospects a mirage.

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“Heart and Soul of a Prosecutor”: The Impact of Prosecutor Role Orientation on Charging Decisions

Criminal Justice and Behavior

2021 In most research, prosecutors are depicted monolithically as “interchangeable parts” rather than as individuals with varied perspectives. Yet, the prosecution is becoming increasingly diverse, a shift that is likely accompanied by different approaches to prosecution. Drawing upon the concepts of role orientation and job crafting, we identify three primary orientations to the job of a prosecutor, that of the Enforcer, the Reformer, and the Advocate.

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Biden's First 100 Days: Putting the Federal Death Penalty on Life Support

Illinois Law Review

2021 In the 78 days between Election Day and when left office, Donald Trump presided over the execution of six defendants on federal death row. So hurried was his administration to see the final three executed that officials repeatedly appealed stays and preliminary injunctions by lower courts to ensure that the death warrants were carried out before control of the US Department of Justice was turned over to Joe Biden and his appointees.

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