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Punishment

American University Washington College of Law

2013

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Crashing The Misdemeanor System, Jenny M. Roberts Jan 2013

Crashing The Misdemeanor System, Jenny M. Roberts

Articles in Law Reviews & Other Academic Journals

With “minor crimes” making up more than 75% of state criminal caseloads, the United States faces a misdemeanor crisis. Although mass incarceration continues to plague the nation, the current criminal justice system is faltering under the weight of misdemeanor processing.

Operating under the “broken windows theory,” which claims that public order law enforcement prevents more serious crime, the police send many petty offenses to criminal court. This is so even though the original authors of the theory noted that “[o]rdinarily, no judge or jury ever sees the persons caught up in a dispute over the appropriate level of neighborhood order” …