• All Events
  1. YEAR
  2. 2019
  3. 2018
  4. 2017
  5. 2016
  6. 2015
  7. 2014
  8. 2013
  9. 2012
  10. 2011
  11. 2010
  • « Back
    09.13.18 Book Talk and Reception: Misdemeanorland
    BLS logo square

    Thursday, September 13
    6 to 7:30 p.m.

    Brooklyn Law School
    Subotnick Center, 10th Floor
    250 Joralemon St.

    The Book Talk was not recorded. View photos from the event.

    Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and
    Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing
    A Conversation with Author Issa Kohler-Hausmann
    Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School
    and Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale

    About the Book
    An in-depth look at the consequences of New York City’s dramatically expanded policing of low-level offenses

    Felony conviction and mass incarceration attract considerable media attention these days, yet the most common criminal-justice encounters are for misdemeanors, not felonies, and the most common outcome is not prison. 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 (Princeton University Press 2018) 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 argues that lower courts have largely abandoned the adjudicative model of criminal law administration in which questions of factual guilt and legal punishment drive case outcomes. Due to the sheer volume of arrests, lower courts have adopted a managerial model—and the implications are troubling. Kohler-Hausmann shows how significant volumes of people are marked, tested, and subjected to surveillance and control even though about half the cases result in some form of legal dismissal. She 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.

    Revealing and innovative, Misdemeanorland 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.

    Sponsored by the Center for Criminal Justice

    About the Author
    Issa Kohler-Hausmann is an Associate Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale. Her primary research interests are in criminal law, criminal procedure, empirical legal studies, tort law, sociology of law, and legal theory. Before coming to Yale, she was a Law Research Fellow at Georgetown University, and an associate with Ilissa Brownstein & Associates in New York.

    Kate Mogulescu
    Assistant Professor of Clinical Law
    Brooklyn Law School

    Copies of Misdemeanorland will be available for purchase.

    Requests for a reasonable accommodation based on a disability to attend this event should be made to Louise Cohen, the BLS Reasonable Accommodations Coordinator, at or (718) 780-0377. Please make your request as soon as possible to determine whether the request can be granted.

    "Rarely does a book come along that changes minds and transforms understandings. This is one of them. It is theoretically rich, methodologically sophisticated, and substantively challenging. Readers, whether experienced criminal justice practitioners or sophisticated scholars, will come away with new insights about what they thought they knew. Quite simply, Misdemeanorland is one of the best books ever written on courts, criminal or otherwise." — Malcolm M. Feeley, author of The Process Is the Punishment: Handling Cases in a Lower Criminal Court
    "In this capacious book, criminal defense attorney, sociologist, and legal scholar Issa Kohler-Hausmann takes us inside New York City's lower criminal courts. She shows that, instead of deciding guilt and innocence and meting out appropriate sentences, misdemeanor courts largely manage people through record keeping and procedural hassle. As a result, people accused of minor crimes come to experience the justice system as arbitrary and dysfunctional. Novel and deeply researched, Misdemeanorland is a major contribution from a brilliant mind." — Matthew Desmond, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted


The Introverted Lawyer

Watch: Book launch for Professor Heidi Brown, Director of the Legal Writing Program and author of The Introverted Lawyer: A Seven-Step Journey Toward Authentically Empowered Advocacy