New Book from Award-Winning Author, UCI Law Prof. Natapoff Now Available


Alexandra Natapoff

Alexandra Natapoff's Latest Book Delivers a Powerful Investigation into the U.S. Misdemeanor System

IRVINE, Calif. (January 3, 2019) — Award-winning author and UCI Law Professor Alexandra Natapoff’s newest book, Punishment Without Crime: How Our Massive Misdemeanor System Traps the Innocent and Makes America More Unequal (Basic Books), is now available.

Based on her original data and prize-winning research, Prof. Natapoff’s Punishment Without Crime provides a comprehensive analysis of the power and influence of misdemeanors throughout the U.S. justice system. The book examines the entire misdemeanor process, from arrest through prosecution and punishment, what happens to people in the system and afterwards, and its implications for the U.S. economy, society, and democracy.

Publisher’s Weekly named Punishment Without Crime a "Best Book of 2018," stating the book is "intelligently written, tightly argued, and often heartbreaking."

"For too long, we’ve ignored the biggest component of the American criminal justice system," said Prof. Natapoff. "Misdemeanors make up 80 percent of all criminal dockets. This is how most Americans experience the criminal process. Some of the system’s worst problems – including wrongful convictions, criminalizing the poor, and racial disparities - can be traced back to the way we handle petty offenses. This book is about understanding and improving an enormously powerful system that quietly derails millions of lives every year."

The book is available from Basic Books here.

On Jan. 2, Natapoff appeared on NPR's "Fresh Air" to discuss the book and misdemeanor system. You can listen to the interview here.

About the Author

Prof. Natapoff’s scholarship has won numerous awards, 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.

Prof. Natapoff is also the author of Snitching: Criminal Informants and the Erosion of American Justice (NYU Press), which won the American Bar Association Silver Gavel Award Honorable Mention for Books. Prof. Natapoff also co-edited The New Criminal Justice Thinking (NYU Press, 2017), which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title.

Prof. Natapoff is a member of the American Law Institute; in 2015 she was appointed as an Adviser to the ALI Policing Project. She has helped draft legislation at both the state and federal levels and is quoted frequently by major media outlets.

Prior to joining the academy, Prof. Natapoff served as an assistant federal public defender in Baltimore, Maryland, and was the recipient of an Open Society Institute Community Fellowship. She clerked for the Honorable David S. Tatel, U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia, and for the Honorable Paul L. Friedman, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia. She earned her B.A., cum laude, from Yale University, and graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School.

For a high-resolution photo of Prof. Natapoff, please click here.

From the Publisher

A revelatory account of the misdemeanor machine that unjustly brands millions of Americans as criminals.

Punishment Without Crime offers an urgent new interpretation of inequality and injustice in America by examining the paradigmatic American offense: the lowly misdemeanor. Based on extensive original research, legal scholar Alexandra Natapoff reveals the inner workings of a massive petty offense system that produces over 13 million cases each year. People arrested for minor crimes are swept through courts where defendants often lack lawyers, judges process cases in mere minutes, and nearly everyone pleads guilty. This misdemeanor machine starts punishing people long before they are convicted; it punishes the innocent; and it punishes conduct that never should have been a crime. As a result, vast numbers of Americans — most of them poor and people of color — are stigmatized as criminals, impoverished through fines and fees, and stripped of drivers’ licenses, jobs, and housing.

For too long, misdemeanors have been ignored. But they are crucial to understanding our punitive criminal system and our widening economic and racial divides.

About UCI Law

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018, the University of California, Irvine School of Law begins its second decade a larger, stronger, more dynamic academic institution than its founders could have ever imagined. UCI Law provides an innovative and comprehensive curriculum, and prioritizes public service and a commitment to diversity within the legal profession. UCI Law students have completed more than 80,000 hours of pro bono work in the past decade. Forty-five percent of UCI Law’s graduates are students of color. The collaborative and interdisciplinary community at UCI Law includes extraordinary students, world-renowned faculty, engaged alumni, and enthusiastic supporters. UCI Law continues to rank highly, including: The National Jurist ranks UCI Law No. 4 in the nation for practical training; U.S. News & World Report ranks UCI Law No. 21 in the nation overall out of 194 law schools, and ranks UCI Law’s robust clinical program No. 13 in the nation. More information on UCI Law is available here. Please follow us on Twitter and Instagram @ucilaw and SnapChat: ucilaw.