Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing


Aug 27, 2019
6.13 x 9.25 in.
33 b/w illus. 1 table.
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“An eye-opening account of the criminal justice system’s often overlooked creaky gears.”—Sam Roberts, New York Times

In the early 1990s, New York City launched an initiative under the banner of Broken Windows policing to dramatically expand enforcement against low-level offenses. Misdemeanorland is the first book to document the fates of the hundreds of thousands of people hauled into lower criminal courts as part of this policing experiment. Drawing on three years of fieldwork inside and outside of the courtroom, in-depth interviews, and analysis of trends in arrests and dispositions of misdemeanors going back three decades, Issa Kohler-Hausmann shows how the lower reaches of our criminal justice system operate as a form of social control and surveillance, often without adjudicating cases or imposing formal punishment. Misdemeanorland describes in harrowing detail how the reach of America’s penal state extends well beyond the shocking numbers of people incarcerated in prisons or stigmatized by a felony conviction.

Awards and Recognition

  • Winner of the Herbert Jacob Book Prize, Law and Society Association
  • Winner of the Albert J. Reiss Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, Crime, Law, and Deviance Section of the American Sociological Association
  • Winner of the 2019 Mirra Komarovsky Book Award, Eastern Sociological Society
  • Finalist for the 2018 C. Wright Mills Award, Society for the Study of Social Problems