Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal

Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal Review

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.

Title:Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Booknblues

    I often like to start the year reading something light and positive, but this year I did the opposite. Reading Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes...

  • Jonathan Blanks

    Full review will be in the forthcoming issue of “Democracy: A Journal of Ideas”...

  • David H Eil

    This valuable book sheds light on a neglected area of the criminal justice system: misdemeanors. Natapoff documents the large consequences that these seemingly innocuous charges can have, how careless...

  • Senshin

    I highly recommend and will read again!...