In felony cases, the crime comes first. Then, police look for the person who did it. In petty-offense cases, the opposite is often true: the police occupy a community of color and look for people to charge with crimes. This session will explore how misdemeanors and municipal courts are abused to target, ensnare, and marginalize people of color. It will focus on the criminalization of innocuous activity, broken-windows policing and policing-for-profit, and the systemic problems within municipal courts that allow this type of targeted policing to result in wrongful criminal convictions. By exploring both policing and multiple facets of municipal-court proceedings, attendees will understand how misdemeanor convictions are used to oppress people of color. Further, attendees will be encouraged to rethink the meaning of “wrongful convictions” as not just encompassing the innocent, but also the unjustly criminalized.
Race and Wrongful Convictions