Invisible injustice: A review of Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal by Alexandra Natapoff

Robin Walker Sterling*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

    Abstract

    Misdemeanors matter. Whether they end in high-profile police shootings, or in fines, fees, and jail, misdemeanors amount to more than the minor inconveniences they are often made out to be. As Professor Alexandra Natapoff argues in Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal, the current system for adjudicating misdemeanors looks more like a criminal processing system meant to generate revenue than a criminal justice system meant to generate fairness. Professor Natapoff makes important, trenchant and timely contributions to the national conversation about the country's misdemeanor processing system. She provides the most comprehensive mapping of the scope of the country's misdemeanor system to date, putting its contours at a massive 13 million cases processed across the country each year. She exposes the pretexts that allow the misdemeanor system to flourish: 1) misdemeanor proceedings are fair; 2) innocent people do not plead guilty; and 3) the punishment from misdemeanors is minor. And, she offers a range of solutions to begin to transform the misdemeanor system into a more just version of itself. This review discusses each of these major contributions in turn, and concludes with suggestions for reform based on Professor Natapoff's research.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    JournalJournal of Community Psychology
    DOIs
    StateAccepted/In press - 2019

    Keywords

    • criminal defense
    • critical race theory
    • juvenile defense
    • narrative theory

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Social Psychology

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Invisible injustice: A review of Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal by Alexandra Natapoff'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this