Introduction to Special Issue: Misdemeanor Justice Project – A focus on criminal justice system responses to lower level offenses

To date, the enforcement of lower level offenses and the criminal justice system’s response to these enforcement actions has received little scholarly attention. To address this gap in scientific research, the Misdemeanor Justice Project (MJP) commissioned nine scholarly papers focused on criminal justice responses to lower level offenses. Each of the papers in this volume is guided by one of four overarching themes, including officer discretion; the impact of lower level enforcement on individuals, communities, and institutions; pretrial detention and diversion; and court
processing and legal representation. As a collection, these papers serve as a launching pad for the development of a body of research in a critical and opaque area of our criminal justice system as well as highlight areas for future research.