98 B.U. L. Rev. 731 (2018)
The Scale of Misdemeanor Justice

handle is hein.journals/bulr98 and id is 749 raw text is: 







                    CONTRIBUTIONS

           THE SCALE OF MISDEMEANOR JUSTICE

                MEGAN STEVENSON* & SANDRA MAYSON**



IN TRODU CTION ............................................................................................... 73 1
    I. NATIONAL MISDEMEANOR DATA ........................................................ 738
       A . An Amorphous  Category ............................................................. 738
       B.  NCSC   Case-Filing D ata  .............................................................. 740
       C.  Uniform Crime Report Arrest Data ............................................. 742
   II. R E SU LT S  .............................................................................................. 744
       A. Misdemeanor Case-Filing Rates and Time Trends ..................... 744
       B. Arrest Rates and Time Trends for Likely-Misdemeanor
           Off enses ....................................................................................... 747
       C. Arrest Rates and Time Trends by Race ........................................ 758
  IIl. D ISCU SSIO N   ......................................................................................... 763
       A. The Scale of Misdemeanor Justice .............................................. 763
       B. A Shrinking Misdemeanor System ............................................... 764
       C.  Consistency and Persistency ....................................................... 769
C ON CLU SION ................................................................................................... 77 1

   This Article seeks to provide the most comprehensive national-level empirical
analysis of misdemeanor criminal justice that is currently feasible given the state
of data collection in the United States. First, we estimate that there are 13.2
million misdemeanor cases filed in the United States each year. Second,
contrary to conventional wisdom, this number is not rising. Both the number of
misdemeanor arrests and cases filed have declined markedly in recent years. In
fact, national arrest rates for almost every misdemeanor offense category have
been declining for at least two decades, and the misdemeanor arrest rate was
lower in 2014 than in 1995 in almost every state for which data is available.
Third, there is profound racial disparity in the misdemeanor arrest rate for
most-but not all-offense types. This is sobering if not surprising. More


    Assistant Professor, George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School.
    Assistant Professor, University of Georgia School of Law. Both authors contributed
equally, name order is random. For extremely helpful input and guidance, we are grateful to
Bob Boruchowitz, Malia Brink, Eisha Jain, Issa Kohler-Hausmann, Michael Maltz,
Alexandra Sasha Natapoff, Jenny Roberts, Bill Sabol, and Shauna Strickland, as well as
both the organizers and participants of the Misdemeanor Machinery: The Hidden Heart of the
American Criminal Justice System conference held at Boston University School of Law in
November 2017.

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