The Culture of Misdemeanor Courts

 In Symposium

The national conversation about criminal justice reform increasingly, and rightly, has focused on misdemeanors. Just as courts and scholars increasingly have acknowledged that our criminal justice system is overwhelmingly one of pleas, not trials, so too have they acknowledged that our system largely is one of misdemeanors, not felonies. At least ten million people were charged with misdemeanors in state courts in the United States in 2015, whereas a far smaller number were charged with felonies. As one scholar has estimated, the “world of misdemeanors” is “about four or five times the size of the world of felonies.”

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