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May 2019 , Page 53 

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

By Robert C. Boruchowitz

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

By Alexandra Natapoff
Basic Books (2018) 

Book_Cover_Punishment_Without_Crime_Natapoff_Alexandra

“We know that innocent people are being convicted. It is an essential and defining aspect of misdemeanor culture that almost no one cares.” So writes Professor Alexandra Natapoff, who details the widespread and corrosive impact of the dysfunction in misdemeanor courts, and challenges readers to do something about it.

Most people who go to court go to misdemeanor court. Their perception of American “justice” often can be described as “cattle auction.” Often there are no defense lawyers or, if lawyers are present, they are overwhelmed.

Professor Natapoff describes the misdemeanor system as contemptuous and dehumanizing, where “The subtleties of formal law demanded by the Constitution lack traction in a system that doesn’t pay much attention to rules in the first place.”

The enormous numbers are disturbing to any sense of equal justice. There a

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