Alexandra Natapoff’s latest book, Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal, delves into the social and judicial impacts of lower level criminal acts. In the book, she explains how the justice system criminalizes acts that should have never been classified as a crime in the first place—everything from jaywalking to trespassing to parking meter violations. These convictions have snowballed into several issues, including stigmatizing people of color as criminals, limiting or even stripping them of access to basic necessities such as housing, and pushing them further into poverty through excessive court fees and fines.
Natapoff is a professor at the University of California, Irvine Law School and was a visiting professor at Harvard Law School for the Fall 2018 semester. She has won several awards for her work, including a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship, the 2013 Law and Society Association Article Prize, and two Outstanding Scholarship Awards from the Association of American Law Schools Criminal Justice Section. Natapoff’s work has led to her being a nationally recognized expert on criminal informants, and her expertise has helped draft state and federal legislation.
Join us as Natapoff discusses her book and how the American misdemeanor system contributes to cycles of poverty and inequality.