Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal
A revelatory account of the misdemeanor machine that unjustly brands millions of Americans as criminals
Punishment Without Crime offers an urgent new interpretation of inequality and injustice in America by examining the paradigmatic American offense: the lowly misdemeanor. Based on extensive original research, legal scholar Alexandra Natapoff reveals the inner workings of a massive petty offense system that produces over 13 million cases each year. People arrested for minor crimes are swept through courts where defendants often lack lawyers, judges process cases in mere minutes, and nearly everyone pleads guilty. This misdemeanor machine starts punishing people long before they are convicted; it punishes the innocent; and it punishes conduct that never should have been a crime. As a result, vast numbers of Americans -- most of them poor and people of color -- are stigmatized as criminals, impoverished through fines and fees, and stripped of drivers' licenses, jobs, and housing.
For too long, misdemeanors have been ignored. But they are crucial to understanding our punitive criminal system and our widening economic and racial divides.
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2018
What people are saying - Write a review
Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More UnequalUser Review - Book Verdict
The subtitle of this volume captures its essence. Natapoff (law, Univ. of California, Irvine; Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice; coeditor, The New Criminal Justice ... Read full review
Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More UnequalUser Review - Publishers Weekly
Law professor Natapoff (Snitching) paints a picture of large-scale judicial and police misconduct in this exposť of the misdemeanor system. Drawing on local data from across the U.S. and anecdotes ... Read full review