There's a lot of people who are arrested for jumping the turnstile, possessing marijuana, stealing a candy bar, who did those things. I'm a former defense attorney! I don't have some delusional view of this. The question is: what do we want to do about the underlying social conditions that produce that?
The guided journey into New York City's lower-level courts offered by Issa Kohler-Hausmann feels at times like a trip through Alice's looking glass. As in Wonderland, a set of rules applies, but to the newcomer, everything will appear turned on its head. It is a vantage point from which to ask: what should justice look like in the cases that make up the bulk of our criminal justice system?
Kohler-Hausmann's claim in Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing, is that justice in the lower courts is no longer primarily about whether people actually committed the offense they’ve been accused of. The focus instead is on defendants’ future behavior: upholding social order through monitoring and managing—often over long stretches—everyone with the misfortune of finding themselves in Misdemeanorland. Through a series of what she calls "procedural hassles" and "performances," the defendant is forced to prove their "fitness for freedom."
Kohler-Hausmann ties this shift to the rise of order-maintenance, or "broken windows," policing in New York City in the 1990s. Under this theory, police radically stepped up enforcement against low-level crimes, targeting what then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton deemed "an increase in the signs of disorder in the public spaces of this city."
The belief was the shift would act as a deterrent to more serious offenses. While the effect on crime is still a matter of debate, there is little argument the strategy had an outsized impact on more heavily-policed communities of color, one still shockingly visible in New York City where almost nine out of 10 misdemeanor cases involve people of color.
As the city's courts confronted an influx of new arrivals, an improvised response took shape. Rather than convictions rising along with the spike in new arrests, it was dismissals that soared. In the absence of any clear directives, the courts were opting to manage defendants—offering, say, dismissals contingent on future good behavior—rather than formal punishment.
Misdemeanorland builds on Malcolm Feeley's classic 1979 study of the "world apart" of a lower criminal court, The Process Is the Punishment. Like Kohler-Hausmann, Feeley worried the process he had identified was inverted, an inversion with grave consequences for public trust in justice. "Next to contact with police," he wrote, "contact with these courts is the most important way in which citizens form impressions of the American system of criminal justice... Whatever majesty there is in the law may depend heavily on these encounters."
For Kohler-Hausmann, it is equally a question of what belongs in the province of the law. Is the criminal justice system—whether in its mode of deciding guilt or of managing and monitoring—the best response to the kind of low-level, and very often repeat, offending that traps people in Misdemeanorland, especially when the behavior is often fueled by critical needs in areas such as housing, employment, and mental health?
Resources and References
- Criminal Justice as Social Justice: A Conversation with Bruce Western (New Thinking)
- Keeping the Peace: Patrick Sharkey on Sustaining the Great Crime Decline (New Thinking)
- Broken Windows: The Police and Neighborhood Safety (The original Atlantic article introducing the concept—1982)
- Police Strategy No. 5: Reclaiming the Public Spaces of New York (From the archives: then Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Police Commissioner Bill Bratton on the rationale for quality-of-life policing—1994)
- In New York, the Handcuffs Are One-Size-Fits-All (Contemporaneous New York Times reporting on the effects of stepped-up low-level enforcement—1997)
- Update from NYC City Council on Effect of Summons Reform (A steep drop in the number of criminal summons issued one year after reform legislation—2017)
- Misdemeanors (Alexandra Natapoff, a leading scholar of low-level justice, contributes a chapter to the multi-volume Reforming Criminal Justice—2017)
- The Controversial Crime-Fighting Program That Changed Big-City Policing Forever (New York magazine on the history, and legacy, of CompStat—2018)
- Understanding Risk and Needs in Misdemeanor Populations (An in-depth profile of New York City misdemeanor defendants from the Center for Court Innovation—2018)
- Toward Misdemeanor Justice: Lessons from New York City (In the Boston University Law Review, recommendations from two of our senior staff for rethinking the purpose and practice of low-level justice—2018)
- The Crime Machine (Two-part series from the podcast Reply All on the origins of CompStat and the policing model it helped entrench—2018)
The following is a transcript of the podcast:
MATT WATKINS: Welcome to New Thinking from the Center for Court Innovation. I'm Matt Watkins.
Issa Kohler-Hausmann's book, Misdemeanorland, out this year, is a provocative guide to the territory of the lower-level courts. And the experience can at times feel like a trip through the looking glass.
Kohler-Hausmann's claim is that the primary purpose of these courts is not establishing whether people are actually guilty. Instead, she says the focus is on maintaining order—managing and assessing—often over long periods of time, everyone with the misfortune to be hauled into Misdemeanorland, a misfortune that tends to fall most squarely on more heavily-policed communities of color.
The argument forces us to think about what justice should look like in these low-level cases, an effort in rethinking that is at the core of much of what we do here at the Center, so I'm delighted to have Issa Kohler-Hausmann here in studio to talk about her book. Issa Kohler-Hausmann is an associate professor of law and sociology at Yale University. Issa, thanks so much for joining us today.
ISSA KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
WATKINS: I thought we could start with a big definition question, which is just briefly explain to people what a misdemeanor actually is. These are not crimes of the century, as you have a judge, I think, early on in your book quoted as saying. But why is it important that we study them nonetheless?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Misdemeanors are, in most jurisdictions, defined as offenses for which a jail sentence of less than a year is an authorized penalty. So essentially, misdemeanors are defined by reference to the penalties that are authorized, and what that definition indicates is that misdemeanors are defined in relation to felonies as being simply less serious.
And the reason it's important to study them is that misdemeanors are, frankly, just more common than felonies. It's unsurprising if you stop and think about it, but you wouldn't know it from watching popular media or even the attention that is given to scholarly study of the criminal justice system. The lower-levels are perhaps unsexy. You're not going to have a ‘Law & Order’ episode about whether or not someone stole a candy bar from a bodega, but stealing candy bars from a bodega is much more common than the act of murder.
WATKINS: It's really the bulk of the criminal justice system is handling these kinds of offenses.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: In most jurisdictions that I've seen data on, misdemeanors represent somewhere between two-thirds to three-fourths of the criminal docket.
WATKINS: And what are the most common dispositions or resolutions to misdemeanor- level cases?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Well, it depends where you're asking about. The study of my book focuses on one jurisdiction, and that's New York City, and it turns out that here in New York, we have incredibly good data, much more than in other states, on misdemeanors and felonies dispositions.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: But the story about why in New York City there's more dismissals than convictions is really a unique story about the sort of the broken windows experiment and how it affected lower criminal courts.
WATKINS: At the end of the day, then, most of the people convicted for a misdemeanor offense—that's not terminating in a jail sentence.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: That's certainly true in New York City. Over the period that I studied, no more than 10 percent of the dispositions in a given year for a misdemeanor arrest terminated in a prospective jail sentence. And in the other cities that I've been able to see data on jail sentences were also fairly rare.
WATKINS: The focus of your book, then, is the lower-level courts in New York City, and you particularly see this development of so-called broken windows policing as a pivot point, and you see the lower-level courts as developing a kind of improvised response to what they had to deal with in response to this sudden influx of people charged with lower-level crime. So could you just lay out the chronology a little bit of broken windows and its relationship to this model of the lower-level courts you're studying?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: In the '90s and the late '80s, New York City was facing a very serious crisis of crime. As many people have noted, there was more than 2,000 murders per year in many of those years. And when Mayor Giuliani was elected, he appointed Bill Bratton to be the police chief. And Bill Bratton was inspired even before that year, when he was the head of the Transit Police here in New York City in the early '90s, he was inspired by a 1982 article in The Atlantic entitled “Broken Windows.’ And in that article, a political scientist and a criminologist laid out a theory, and it was really just a theory.
The theory was that there was some sort of developmental sequence between tolerating low-level disorder—so disorder on the streets, graffiti, littering—and serious street crime: robberies, murder, vandalism, carjacking. So there was this theory that if you tolerated those things in certain spaces, you essentially licensed serious crime because people got the impression that social order wasn't being maintained, that the police didn't care, that society didn't care.
So that was the claim in this article. And I keep stressing that it was a theory because at the time, no one had any idea what the effect would be to operationalize a new form of policing that really took seriously low-level offenses at a massive scale.
So Bratton was really the person that came up with what an operationalized form of broken windows policing would look like, and what he came up with was a document called Police Strategy No. 5. And what he said in this document was that, look, we're going to do two things. We're going to increase the number of enforcement against low-level offenses. We're going to increase the number of times. We're massively going to ratchet up the ranks of our patrol force. We're going to direct them to things like the squeegee men, turnstile jumping, prostitution, noise complaints, these markers of public order.
And we're also going to increase the formality, and that's something that I think has been missed in prior examinations of what the broken windows policing model changed in New York City and really changed across the board, was that they became obsessed with generating records. They became obsessed with marking people, generating records through the New York State's criminal records databases.
WATKINS: You mean like each encounter you have with a police officer generates a certain kind of mark.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Right. Think about it this way, that if in the past, the police officers may have actually dealt with these low-level things. They might've said to someone on the street corner, "Look, move along. You're making a ruckus." Now the preference was going to be to issue a formal citation in the form of a summons and, even better, make what's called in New York a finger-printable arrest because arrests like that allow you to put the person's fingerprints into the state's database and then have a record in the courts and in the district attorney's office that the person has had prior encounters with law enforcement.
WATKINS: Did this Atlantic article lay out in very clear form how the lower-level courts should deal with this sudden influx of people caught up in this flood-the-zone lower-level enforcement? I'm thinking not.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: What's so fascinating about the fact that this was born in the city of New York is it just seemed that no one seemed to think that, here you're rolling out this policing model that says, "We're going to drastically enforce low-level policing," and New York is essentially a bottomless pit of objects of enforcement of this! I mean, you can make as many of these summonses or these arrests as you want to make, as many as you're willing to fund, patrol—you can find them. They're everywhere, right?
But no one seemed to think what would happen when you flooded the lower criminal courts with these cases. Because you've got to remember, once the police make an arrest as part of this enforcement, that person has to go somewhere. And where they go is to essentially what's called Misdemeanorland. And that is just this colloquialism that you hear in the lower criminal courts, and it refers to the physical space and the jurisdictional space that handle sub-felony cases.
WATKINS: So how do these courts then respond? What techniques emerge? Because it seems like it's your argument that in the absence of any clear directives, the response was a sort of diffuse and improvised one.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: What happened is right away within the first year that this policing strategy was implemented, you see a massive increase in the number of summonses issued, and those are the tickets that are issued for sub-misdemeanors, right? So violations and infractions. Things like spitting on the sidewalk, riding your bike on the sidewalk, public consumption of alcohol. You see this huge increase in those right away. You see a huge increase in arrests for misdemeanor crimes. And the lower courts are essentially flooded, and one of the things that you see within the first couple of years is that the criminal conviction rate does not go up.
WATKINS: So arrests go up but convictions don't.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: They don't even stay proportional. So in recent years, over this broken windows era, pretty quickly you see about 20 percent of the cases terminating in a misdemeanor conviction, and you see this really significant increase in the proportion of cases terminating in a dismissal. So it seems to me from everything I was able to research, it's not as if there was this across-the-board or from-the-top—from the top of the D.A.s’ offices or from the mayor's office—a plan, "Hey, guys. The courts are going to be overwhelmed, so let's just dismiss a bunch of these cases."
If you just are hearing this, you might think, "Well, look, this is a pretty standard adaptation of an organization that's overwhelmed. They're just sort of opening the pressure valve and letting these cases out." But that's really not what happened. You have to look at the qualitative specifics as to what was happening in those cases and delve a little bit more into the legal meaning of the dispositions that terminated in these special types of dismissals.
WATKINS: Yeah. I want to get into that, obviously, because it's at the heart of the book, what all these different marks mean. And when we hear "dismissal," we think, "Oh, well, the case is over, everybody's fine." But in fact, that's not the case at all, and you make that very clear.
But before we do that, I mean, I did want to ask you, a lot of the book is hinged on the broken windows era, and there are people making the argument that that era is now over. We've had a huge drop in summons. A lot of criminal stuff is reclassified as civil. Stop-and-frisks are way down. Marijuana is de facto decriminalized, although you hear different reports from different courtrooms across the city. But how much does that change the argument of your book? I mean, are we dealing with a legacy of how the courts deal with things?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: That's a great question, and I've been thinking about that a lot lately. I don't know what it means to say the broken windows era is over. I do think that the broken windows theory is this animating belief system that has a deep, deep hold on the brass, the upper echelons of the NYPD and, frankly, on, I think, people in police departments across the country because the brass of the NYPD went on to populate police departments across the country.
It has a hold in two ways. First, I think there still is a strong belief that there's a connection between lower-level enforcement and control of street crime and property crime. And part of it is a pretty obvious reason, which is low-level enforcement—really since the beginning of policing and the vagrancy laws in Victorian England—has always been about the pretextual power that they give you to control certain populations. Low-level offenses are very broad. I mean, something like disorderly conduct is incredibly broad.
WATKINS: Which is a huge category of misdemeanors, right?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Well, it's the number one conviction category and has been for about 30 years in New York. So these low-level penal law offenses are always going to provide police with something that they value, which is the pretextual tools to stop and search and engage people that they think are problematic and they believe that they have the right instincts for this, and so they are always going to hold onto them. And that's another sort of footnote to what you mentioned, the reclassification.
Really the big thing that changed—for example, in the recent act that was passed here in New York City—was not that it reclassified. It's just that it gave the police the power to issue civil summonses—
WATKINS: Right. But the evidence is that they are doing that, no?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: The evidence is they're doing it, but they fought very hard to maintain the discretion that it was still classified as a penal law offense and to make a full, what's called online finger-printable arrest when they deemed necessary. And so the police will not give up, and they're loathe to give up, and they will only give up under tremendous political pressure, the inherent power that is bestowed by broad penal law offenses. They still maintain that discretion. And that's different from actually taking it away and saying, "We're not classifying this as a penal law offense. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't make this as a finger-printable arrest."
So first, I'd say that there's just that. I don't think that philosophy has been given up. If a black man between the ages of 17 and 25 living in Brownsville, Brooklyn in the height of the broken windows era might have had on average four arrests, maybe perhaps now he's going to experience two arrests, which is great, I think less arrests are better than more arrests, but that's different than fundamentally changing that.
And the other thing that I'll say is that the alternative techniques that most district attorney's offices are using I think are exactly the type of ways that I describe in the book that people experience the criminal justice system, it's just that they may be experiencing them less frequently or experiencing more performance and more procedural hassle and less convictions.
WATKINS: You're starting to bring up some of the core terms of your book, “performance” and “procedural hassle,” and I do want to turn now to look at the central elements of your argument because you are saying that the low-level courts shift to what you call a managerial model. Rather than adjudicating guilt or innocence, it's about managing people, controlling them, testing them, assessing them. So first question, what exactly are they being assessed for? What is the system testing them for?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: What I call this managerial model, what I say is a better way of capturing what is happening in lower courts right now, you can think of the rules of criminal procedure or the engagement with the court not as about trying to figure out if the person did the act that they're accused of. Basically, they're trying to figure out, what type of person are you? Do I feel comfortable letting you out the front door of the courthouse and back into the world?
And so you can think of the managerial model as being about using the tools and process of criminal law and criminal procedure to sort and manage people over time. And so what they're sorting them for is basically some vision of, are you a manageable person? Are you a governable person? Are you a person that's enmeshed in other institutions of social control? And I just want to make a quick footnote that, as a sociologist, I use the word social control not in this nefarious way, like mind control, controlling you to do bad things or to be a mindless automaton but rather just normalization.
WATKINS: Outward forms of behavior rather than trying to rehabilitate the inner person.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: It's about saying, "Do we think you're the type of person that will go around following society's rules?”
WATKINS: So it's forward-looking, is what they're doing. They're less concerned with looking backwards to whether you did actually jump the turnstile, but more assessing how is this person going to behave and if they make their court appointments on time, that's a good indication that we can trust this fellow.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: You can think about this in a really simple way, which is the lower courts were flooded with these cases. But they weren't really, really serious crimes where you had this moral imperative to punish, like murder, even if the person hadn't done it before.
WATKINS: And they're often crimes of poverty and addiction and homelessness, right?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Often, many were. And so faced with that, faced with that dilemma, essentially what the courts did and what the actors did was come up with this technique that makes a lot of sense if you think about it, which is saying, "Look, I don't know if you jumped the turnstile. Instead, what I'm going to do is let you go with this little marker, with this little requirement that I get to keep track of you for maybe six months, maybe a year, maybe I make you go do one day of community service, or maybe I just make you come back to court a bunch of times and see if you did it. And so instead, I just ask you to display for me what type of person you'll be in the future. And if you end up being someone that I feel comfortable letting go, I won't even try to figure out what you did in the past. But I'll keep track of the fact that you had this one engagement in case you come back."
WATKINS: Right. So you come up with terms to give to these sort of collections of techniques of this control that, again, develops in this sort of improvised way dealing with this influx of cases. One of those that we've talked about is marks, and so I guess if you could just explain briefly, what are the different ways people accumulate these marks, and then how are system-actors, people in the justice system, how are they reading and interpreting these marks? Because it's actually quite sophisticated and shows a lot of discernment in some ways.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Here in New York, we have a disposition called the adjournment in contemplation of dismissal. A lot of other states have something that's really similar to that. And sometimes, if there's not a formal disposition like that, courts just leave cases open, meaning they just have a long adjournment between the first appearance and the next one, and they require the person to come back.
WATKINS: And time itself is a kind of weapon in that instance.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Exactly. And so what that does is it just keeps a record on the person for a limited amount of time. Whenever a case is open, we have a mark on you, we have a record on you.
And I think what's important to realize is that sometimes actors do that on purpose, right? Sometimes actors say, "Look, all I want on this person is a temporary marker." Sometimes when the person rejects the plea offer , and they have to come back to court for six months or for a year, it's not as if the actor intended to impose the mark, but that's the upshot of doing it, and the fact that the mark is there is appropriated and used at a later time, even if no one intended it. So there is all this complex interaction with how these markers are used.
WATKINS: Then you talk as well about something that you call “procedural hassle,” which sounds a lot like Malcolm Feeley's famous 1979 argument about the lower-level courts: the process itself is the punishment. And so I'm wondering how you see the procedural hassle operating, again, as a form of informal punishment?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: One of the things that's so interesting about comparing Malcolm's study was that Malcolm's claim—and this is precisely what's so interesting about the change of broken windows and why I think part of that is here to stay—is that one of the things that Malcolm noted time and time again in his study of lower criminals courts in New Haven was that the criminal legal actors thought these cases were small, were unimportant. They were annoyed and insulted that they had to deal with them.
His claim was that the actors were in essence satisfied with the hassle that the person had to go through in order to deal with a lower case. They found the procedural hassle—which is the coming to court, sitting in court, missing work, missing their family obligations—they found that that amount of hassle was sort of sufficient to outweigh the seriousness of the case.
And the big difference, I think, between when he studied the lower criminal courts and when I'm studying them here is that the criminal actors—the police, the DAs, the judges—now have this vision that you have to think about this low-level action in this grander theory about, “well, this person might become a serious offender, this person is in a high-crime neighborhood.”
So they have become obsessed with this marking and tracking, and they think about the procedural hassle in that framework, right? So they think of it not just as this is a sufficient quantum of unpleasantness that you've experienced, but that they also want to look to it as an indicator that the person is not the type of person they need to worry about as growing up into one of these more serious criminal offenders.
WATKINS: Then related to this issue of procedural hassle is this collection of techniques you call performance, which is essentially grading how people do or perform these assigned tasks that the system gives them. So could you just talk briefly about that role of performance, and then I want to ask you a little about how that might impact the kind of work that we do here in fact.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Performance is just a word that I use to capture all of the meaning that criminal legal actors take from the actions and behavior of defendants while they're enmeshed and entangled in Misdemeanorland.
Sometimes it will be the fact that defendants would bring stories or indications of other types of performance that they voluntarily undertook. For example, the defendant will say, "I voluntarily enrolled in this drug treatment program." Or, "Here's a note from my employer about how hard I work.”
Those types of performances are another way of trying to show, "I’m a governable person. I'm enmeshed in other institutions like family and the labor force that control me and regularize me, that make you feel comfortable that you don't have to worry about me."
WATKINS: The question that I wanted to ask you about the work that we do here is, a big part of that work is finding proportionate and, hopefully, meaningful and effective alternatives to incarceration and alternatives to less meaningful sentences. And that can mean people committing to a program, committing to social services, or therapeutic services.
Sometimes in the book, I feel like you have a more cynical take on the role of those programs, that in fact there's this danger that we're simply subjecting defendants to a series of performative hoops they have to go through to get themselves out of the system. So I'm just wondering, is that your take on programs as a whole, or do you see a redemptive role for them?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: I like to think of my view as realistic and not entirely cynical, which is on one level, of course they're performative hoops so that people can get out of the system, and that's the point of them. And so one of the points that I try to make in the book is when people make the observation that, look, “people still have to do these things, and they're further entangled in the criminal justice system with programs,” I say, "Well, of course they are."
You misunderstand the motivations and the meaning of alternative programs if you think it's an intent to withdraw penal social control over that particular issue or that population. That's not what they are. And if what you want is pure withdrawal, then that's a different political battle that, in some instances, as a citizen, I would be totally onboard with fighting in certain domains.
And I say that just to make the point that what the programs are doing is saying, "I'm willing to trade off, say, a more serious mark, like a criminal conviction, or a different type of performance, like community service, for another performance—say, attending therapeutic sessions or engaging in some sort of a class." And my point is just that those things are being commensurated and traded off, not withdrawn.
The tension, and this is a story that I point out in the book, if you talk to someone that's gone through this, they'll say, "Look, I'd much rather do this than go to Riker's. However, did five therapy sessions solve the fact that I am in poverty, that I don't have quality healthcare, that I lost my public housing because of a prior drug conviction, that I don't have enough skills to get a high-paying job, that I have lost custody of my children? No." And the criminal justice system couldn't solve those things, nor should it be the proper place to solve them. And so that also just reflects part of the tension of thinking that we're only going to address social welfare issues in the criminal justice system.
WATKINS: That seems to be the conclusion of the book, is you talk about this need for a “larger transformative project,” and I think we just got some sense of what that might look like for you—basically, this problem of expecting the criminal justice system to be the primary response to all kinds of very deep-seated social and historic and economic ills. But to invert that, I guess, if that's the word: this is a place here that's committed also to a model of sort of incrementalism and incremental change and even sometimes we call it radical incrementalism Are there, do you think, some sort of practical takeaways right now for reformers in your book?
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: There's some really basic stuff, like New York State has some of the best sealing laws in the nation. And if there's anything I could export, this is a project that I've long wanted to do, it would be writing model code for other states to export New York State's sealing law. And by sealing law, I mean the fact that cases that terminate in a non-conviction, in a violation, in a non-criminal conviction, or in a form of dismissal should be sealed and erased from the rap sheet.
WATKINS: And so the mark expires off that person.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Yes, it really, genuinely expires in New York. And that's one of the only ways to really mitigate against the racial and class disproportionate effect of intense policing. Look, black and Hispanic people disproportionately live in high-crime neighborhoods because of the history of racial segregation and maligned state neglect of the social needs of those communities. And because of that, they're always going to be the people that disproportionately feel the intensity of policing for serious crime. And if you want to save them from having, then, these collateral effects in housing and employment, you need to really enforce our sealing laws.
In terms of national strategies or just bigger-picture stuff, there's a lot of people who are arrested for jumping the turnstile, possessing marijuana, stealing a candy bar who did those things. All right? I'm a former defense attorney. I don't have some delusional view of this. The question is, what do we want to do about the underlying social conditions that produce that? And do we want to criminalize these things?
And so I think this is where we part ways with the sort of Koch brothers,'Right on Crime,' which is they think this is just, "oh, we're just going to save money." And I think, no, what we need is a massive investment in jobs and resources and schools and redistribution that would address the centuries of malign neglect of black and poor communities, and that that's really what we need to be calling for. And I think the more time you spend in the criminal justice system, the more you learn that.
WATKINS: Well, Issa, I want to thank you so much for being here and thank you for your book, which I thought was really great and enormously provoking of thought. So thank you so much.
KOHLER-HAUSMANN: Thank you so much.
WATKINS: I've been speaking with Issa Kohler-Hausmann. She is the author of this year's Misdemeanorland and an associate professor of law and sociology at Yale University. More information on today's episode and all of our episodes, including transcripts and suggestions for further reading, is on our website. That's at courtinnovation.org/newthinking.
Technical help today from the stalwart Bill Harkins. Our director of design is Samiha Meah. Our theme music is by Michael Aharon at quiver NYC. Special thanks for help with today's episode to Lama Hassoun Ayoub. And our show's founder is Rob Wolf.
This has been New Thinking from the Center for Court Innovation. I'm Matt Watkins. Thanks for listening.